The widely celebrated Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll report that reported a statistically insignificant 2pt lead for Barack Obama among Likely Democratic Primary voters contained another piece of worrying news about a Barack Obama nomination: the economy.
New polling released today shows that voters trust Clinton more than McCain on the economy and McCain more than Clinton when it comes to reducing government corruption. Those preferences are reversed when McCain was compared to Obama.
Rasmussen is reporting that voters trust Hillary Clinton more than John McCain when it comes to the economy. No shock there. The Clinton name is associated with a strong, growing economy and balanced budgets. What is shocking is that another poll showed that John McCain is trusted more on the economy than Senator Obama.
Could this be a problem for Senator Obama in November? The most recent poll I could find was a CBS/NY Times poll conducted Feb. 20-24. When asked which issue was most important to voters, 33% said the economy. The war in Iraq was second at 20%. Health care was third at 7%.
Barack Obama needs to work on his economic credentials because the economy is important to voters and his message is not resonating with voters. These findings may explain why Hillary carried Ohio with a double-digit margin. Remember that her controversial 3am ad did not air in Ohio.
I was raised in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. This tri-state area has suffered economically as the industrial sector of the economy has declined over the last 20 years. I, personally, find Obama's appeal about hope and change and new politics very exciting. It happens that I find Hillary more appealing. As much as I genuinely do like Barack Obama, his message is not resonating with these blue-collar voters.
In 2000, Gore lost West Virginia. The reason he lost was a speech he gave in 1992 near my hometown. He promised to enforce trade laws and protect local voters. When the Clinton administration refused to enforce trade laws to stop steel dumping from China and Brazil, voters in my area took their anger out on Al Gore. They looked at Al Gore and saw a politician they didn't trust and they looked at George Bush and say a politician who wouldn't be any more helpful, but they agreed with his views on social issues. One painful irony for me is that George Bush's steel tariffs saved my father's company and his pension and his job.
Although I am a Clinton partisan, I am fond of Barack Obama and I am committed to supporting him, should he be the nominee. The point of this diary is not to attack him, but to point to a very big weakness that needs to be addressed. Blue collar voters don't get Barack Obama the way many other progressive voters. John McCain, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense. He's easier "to get."
Just an aside. One more finding in the poll should give all of us, both Obama and Clinton partisans, some pause:
The General Election remains essentially tied. McCain leads Obama 45% to 44% while Clinton leads McCain 46% to 45% (see recent daily results). Both single-point leads are statistically insignificant. In each match-up, McCain benefits from a significant number of voters who preferred the other candidate in the Democratic Primary. This suggests that if the Democrats can unify their party by fall, McCain could be at a significant disadvantage. On the other hand, McCain could benefit greatly if the Democratic battle spins further out of control.
This is consistent with findings in some state polls, as well. Rasmussen released a poll on Saturday that found Obama leading Clinton by 14 points in Mississippi. It also found that many of their supporters have negative views of their opponents:
One measure of a deepening divide in the party is that just 56% of Obama voters have a favorable opinion of Clinton. Just 34% of Clinton voters have a favorable opinion of Obama.
If Obama is nominated, just 47% of Clinton voters say they are even somewhat likely to vote for Obama in the general election against John McCain.
If Clinton is nominated, 65% of Obama voters say they are at least somewhat likely to vote for her against McCain.
Similar results in a poll of Michigan voters released on Friday:
If Clinton wins the nomination, just 50% of Obama voters say they would be even somewhat likely to vote for her against John McCain. Thirty-five percent (35%) say they are Not at All Likely to vote for Clinton in the general election.
On the other hand, if Obama wins the nomination, just 52% of Clinton voters would be even somewhat likely to vote for him against John McCain. Twenty-five percent (25%) say they are Not at All Likely to vote for Obama in the general election.
At the end of this battle, it is critical that we rally around the nominee. The only way this happens is if the supporters of the loser believe that the winner fairly the won nomination. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that the Michigan and Florida issue is settled in a way that satisfies both sides. The cannot be shut out, and their delegations cannot be sat as is. I hope our party leaders are taking this seriously.