ABC / Post poll: Clinton up
in, dead heat in
Obama leads in electability in state
primaries critical to Democratic Race
TRAILING in perceived electability,is running in a dead heat with in the Democratic primary and holds a single-digit lead in , lifted there by lunch-bucket voters and party regulars.
Critical, Close Contests Loom in
Differing demographic and political profiles in Texas and Ohio change pieces of the puzzle – but both contests look close, with more than enough moveable voters to tip the balance either way.
With about two weeks until the primary, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds a 48-47 percent Clinton-Obama race among likely voters in, and 50-43 percent in .
A quarter in, and a third in , say they could change their minds or are undecided.
Hispanics, Party Faithful Boost Clinton
In, Clinton’s being kept competitive by support from Hispanics; she likely needs them to turn out in greater-than-usual numbers, as they did in , which she won Feb. 5.
Inshe’s benefiting from a greater number of Democratic Party regulars than in , from fewer college-educated or higher-income voters and from support in some union households.
In both states, senior citizens are crucial to Clinton’s side; independents and younger voters, to Obama’s. And he’s taken a lead over Clinton on electability, a point he may try to drive home, along with his mantle of “change,” in the days ahead.
Obama Bests Clinton on Electability
Obama beats Clinton in the perception that he’s got the best chance of winning in November by 47-36 percent inand 48-37 percent in .
He trounced Clinton as more electable in; he’s also made broad strides on electability in national ABC/Post polling, moving up from a 43-point deficit in mid-December to just 5 points earlier this month.
Obama’s lead on electability peaks among college graduates, a key group for him; nearly six in 10 of them say he has the best chance to win in November.
Even women, less-educated voters and mainline Democrats – Clinton groups – roughly divide between her and Obama on who’s most electable.
Indeed among seniors, her best group, well under half say Clinton’s got the best chance in November.
For her part, Clinton continues to prevail as the strongest leader, by 53-36 percent inand 51-40 percent in .
That edge extends to some issues: she’s ahead in both states in trust to handle the economy as well as health care, her signature issue. Clinton has a slight edge inin trust to handle the Iraq war; in , they’re even on the issue.
Race & Change vs. Experience
Voters in both states split about evenly on the key dynamic of the race, a “new direction and new ideas” vs. “strength and experience”; the split mirrors the last national poll.
It cuts overwhelmingly to vote: Eight in 10 voters who place more importance on “strength and experience” favor Clinton; about as many “new direction” voters go to Obama.
Obama is slightly stronger among “new direction” voters in(80 percent support him) than in (75 percent) – part of the reason he’s a bit behind there.
Clinton does especially well among women, and particularly among white women, one of her core support groups, in.
Obama makes more inroads among white women in Texas (39 percent support), though not up to his unusual 47 percent support from white women in theprimary Tuesday.
Hispanics are key in; they favor Clinton by 59-36 percent, about the same as the average in exit polls across all primaries to date (61-35 percent).
By contrast, it’s a much closer 50-46 percent contest among whites in, while African-Americans there are favoring Obama by a 4-1 margin, 76-18 percent.
That, too, resembles the outcome in all primaries to date (79-17 percent for Obama among blacks), but it’s lower than some of his high-water marks, including his 91 percent support from blacks in.
Obama continues to do better with college graduates (who are less numerous among likely voters inthan in ), with higher-income voters (also less numerous in ); and with younger voters, particularly in , albeit not at the level he achieved in .
He leads by 59-39 percent among those under age 40 in; Clinton comes back with 60-25 percent support among seniors there. Seniors also are her best age group by far in , 57-33 percent.
Eleven percent of seniors inare undecided, more than in any other group. But among likely voters who have a preference, it’s the younger people in who are most apt to say they may change their minds – 29 percent of under 40s. (And about as many in .)
The age gap shows up other ways.
Texas seniors are much more apt to say they’d be “very satisfied” with Clinton rather than Obama as the nominee; young people are more likely to be “very satisfied” with Obama. There are similar divisions by race. (Inthere’s less of a gap by age, but a somewhat bigger one by race.)
A quarter of likely voters inare from union households; they back Clinton by 53-37 percent, as opposed to a narrower 49-45 percent division among those from non-union households.
Clinton lost union household voters to Obama in, though across all primaries to date she’s won them by 50-43 percent. There are very few union voters in .
Political allegiance also counts for much.
Clinton leads among party regulars in(55-39 percent) and (53-42 percent) alike; Obama owes his competitiveness to independents who intend to vote in these open primaries. He leads among independents by 53-39 percent in and 53-40 percent in .
Those are similar to previous primaries this year: Clinton’s won Democrats overall, by 50-44 percent; Obama’s prevailed among independents, 53-37 percent.
There’s a difference on issues between these states: The economy and health care rank about evenly as the most important issue to Democratic likely voters in, cited by 34 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
In, 33 percent cite health care, with the economy second, 22 percent.
Though demographics and personal attributes matter more, issue priorities do divide voters somewhat; in, Clinton is supported by 53 percent of those who cite health care as their No. 1 issue, and 51 percent of those who cite the economy, versus just 39 percent of those who say it’s .
Clinton’s lead among economy voters in, 52-37 percent, is bigger than her lead overall; that’s not so among health care voters.
As noted, Obama trounces Clinton among voters who care most about change, and she beats him as broadly among those more focused on experience. But another measure fleshes out this equation, and raises a potential vulnerability for Obama.
Two-thirds in both states say Clinton, if elected, would “do enough” to bring needed change to; fewer, 56 percent in and 53 percent in , say Obama has the kind of experience it takes to serve effectively as president.
Obama still has the majority’s endorsement on experience – but at a considerably lower level than Clinton’s acceptability on change. (In only a few groups does Obama fall short of a majority on experience, such as seniors and Hispanics in.)
Additionally, while Obama leads as the most electable in November, more than six in 10 likely voters in both states say either candidate could beat, the front-running Republican.
In Texas, seniors and Hispanics say by 2-1 that only Clinton could beat McCain; African-Americans, by 3-1, say only Obama could do so.
In Ohio, college graduates, independents and blacks pick only Obama by especially wide margins.
Enthusiasm & Turnout
Enthusiasm for the candidates – potentially a factor in turnout – is running about equal for Clinton and Obama, albeit a bit lower inthan in .
That’s especially true for Clinton; in65 percent of her supporters describe themselves as “very enthusiastic” about supporting her; in , 53 percent. (Obama’s numbers are 62 percent in Texas, 56 percent in .)
Turnout, naturally, is crucial. Clinton leads inand alike among people who say they voted in the 2004 primary; new voters are better for Obama. Given their sharp differences, the relative mix of Hispanics and blacks voting in Texas is equally critical; Clinton’s support may rely on a boost in turnout by Hispanics over 2004, when they accounted for 24 percent of voters.
On the other hand, Clinton arguably could prevail without a big Hispanic turnout, if instead seniors showed up in large numbers; they accounted for a sizable 26 percent of voters in theDemocratic primary in 2000, but then dropped to 19 percent in 2004.
Likely voters in this poll account for 24 percent of the adult population inand 30 percent in . While actual turnout at those levels is unlikely, vote preference results are similar in likely voter models positing much lower turnout.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 16-20, 2008, among a random sample of 611 Democratic likely voters inand 603 in . The Ohio survey included an oversample of 27 African-Americans for a total of 104 blacks (weighted back to their share of the total population). Interviews in were conducted in English or Spanish. The overall results in each state have a 4-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of .