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MA: Obama on the Move in Bay State

By Lyndsey Layton
Barack Obama is quickly eating away at large leads enjoyed by Hillary Clinton in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

"What's interesting is the speed at which, in Massachusetts, Obama has been able to close an unbridgeable gap," said Michael Goldman, a senior consultant at the Government Insight Group and a visiting professor at Tufts University, who has worked on state and national Democratic campaigns for 40 years. "I thought last week he'd do well here. Now I think he has a chance to win the thing."

The state's political establishment is split between the two candidates, and Goldman says Democratic voters are having an equally hard time deciding between the two.

"This is the first time when Massachusetts people have essentially a good choice and a better choice," he said. "Almost always, it's a bad choice and a worse choice. People are saying, 'I really like her, but I really like him, too.' "

A Rasmussen poll conducted hours after Obama won a coveted endorsement from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, showed Clinton leading Obama, 43 percent to 37 percent. But it was conducted before John Edwards dropped out, and a poll taken over the weekend by a television station and Suffolk University found Obama inching ahead of Clinton, 46 percent to 44 percent.

Obama quickly launched television ads in the state featuring Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy. Not to be out-Kennedyed, the Clinton campaign has been touting endorsements by three children of the late Robert F. Kennedy and running a television commercial featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a New Yorker and environmental advocate.

Obama also has the backing of Gov. Deval Patrick, another fresh-faced African American who campaigned on similar themes of transcendence and change. Patrick, who made history when he won office two years ago, has a sophisticated statewide organization.

But it is unclear how far blessings from Patrick and the Kennedys will propel Obama in Massachusetts, where the economy is seen as the top issue by 51 percent of voters.

The state, which never recouped all the jobs it lost in the 2001 recession, is bracing for more troubles as another slowdown looms. Polls show that voters worried about the economy are lining up behind Clinton, who has support from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a streetwise politician with a strong following among blue-collar workers throughout Boston.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin reports that an unusually large number of absentee ballots -- 65,000 -- have been requested. Turnout may be affected by weather; snow is predicted.

The state's relatively small Republican Party is not expecting the same intensity it experienced during the last contest, in 2000. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is comfortably ahead of McCain, 55 percent to 23 percent, according to a Rasmussen poll taken Jan. 28, and is considered a favorite son. Observers say independent voters, who can participate in either party primary and have embraced McCain more than Romney, could boost McCain's chances.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 7:21 PM ET
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Next: NJ: Obama in Striking Distance of Garden State


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Posted by: aoyh orlmpx | April 16, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: aoyh orlmpx | April 16, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: aoyh orlmpx | April 16, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I lived in Missouri for a long time and I love that state to pieces, but there's something pretty amusing about the thought that Missouri and not California would be a bellweather state. I mean, come on.

Posted by: issima_50 | February 5, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama is having a late surge that will keep him in play for the nomination. If he does better than expected he will be the story of the night. If he wins California or comes in within three-four points within Hillary he will win the nomination. California, not Missouri, will be the bell-weather state.

Posted by: unteal | February 5, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Republicans are once more doing what they do best. deciding the democratic candidate in the primary.
Republicans are telling us that Barrack Obama is a better candidate than Clinton,and that clinton will be easy to beat in the general, but yet they are doing all they can to stop her.

Posted by: danielbarbu | February 4, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama & Clinton Deadlocked in Mass. Democratic Primary

7NEWS/Suffolk University Poll Shows Romney Over McCain

BOSTON - Barack Obama (46 percent) leads Hillary Clinton (44 percent) by a razor-thin margin among likely Democratic voters, according to a poll released today by 7NEWS (WHDH-TV/NBC Boston)/Suffolk University. Seven percent of Democratic and independent voters were undecided. However, 27 percent of Democratic voters and 24 percent of Republican voters say they may change their minds before tomorrow.

The recent Kennedy endorsement is a key factor for Obama overall. Asked to size up the impact of three endorsements for Obama and Clinton, Democratic respondents cited Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's endorsement of Obama (43 percent) as the most influential, followed by Bill Clinton's of his wife (23 percent) and Oprah Winfrey's of Obama (9 percent).
"The Bay State's senior senator Ted Kennedy clearly has more clout in Massachusetts than the popular former president, Bill Clinton," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Boston's Suffolk University (SUPRC). "Add to that the backing of Senator Kerry and Governor Patrick, with the resonant message of change as well as the Kennedy call for 'a new generation of leadership' and you have the reason why what was once Clinton country has become an Obama opportunity - and a political choice between the nostalgic and the new."
Obama was strong among men (49 percent-to-30 percent), independents (43 percent-to-35 percent), in Middlesex & Essex counties (46 percent-to-36 percent) and among voters ages 18-45 years (55 percent-to-31 percent). Clinton's areas of strength contrasted sharply with Obama's: She led among women (52 percent-to-35 percent), in the Worcester/West area (52 percent-to-34 percent) and among voters ages 66 years and up (59 percent-to-26 percent).

"If young voters, men and independents turn out for Obama, he will win. If older voters and women dominate the Democratic Primary as they did in neighboring New Hampshire, then it's Clinton's for the taking. But at this point every precinct counts, and there's no room for a tactical mistake on Election Day."

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney (50 percent) leads John McCain (37 percent), with Mike Huckabee (4 percent) and Ron Paul (3 percent) trailing. Six percent were undecided.

"Mitt Romney can thank Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul for helping to split the anti-Romney vote in Massachusetts. Without them, this race would be much closer."

Romney bested McCain on topics such as who would do a better job on the economy (Romney 62 percent-McCain 23 percent), on health care (Romney 51 percent-McCain 26 percent), and "improving my life" (Romney 49 percent-McCain 25 percent). However, McCain was seen as the better of the two on the topic of keeping us safe (McCain 43 percent-Romney 36 percent).

Primary voters were split on whether or not they are better off today than they were eight years ago. Only 35 percent of Democratic voters answered yes to this question, while 59 percent said no. However, on the Republican side, 62 percent indicated they are better off since the year 2000, while 32 percent said they are not.

Asked who would be the next president, the combination of Democrats and Republicans picked Hillary Clinton (27 percent) regardless of whom they personally supported. She was followed by Barack Obama (25 percent), John McCain (21 percent) and Mitt Romney (10 percent).

The 7NEWS/SUPRC poll was conducted Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008. The margin of error on each party's statewide survey of 400 is +/- 4.90 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the statewide survey were likely primary voters in the Massachusetts Presidential Primary on Feb. 5. Marginals and 265 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site - - on Feb. 4. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

7NEWS/Suffolk University will be calling selected bellwether communities in Massachusetts on the evening of Feb. 4 as an added predictor module for possible election outcomes.
Suffolk University, located on Boston's historic Beacon Hill, with campuses in Madrid and Dakar, Senegal (Africa), is a comprehensive global institution distinguished by its teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty. Suffolk offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 70 areas of study. Its mission is to provide quality education at a reasonable cost for students of all ages and backgrounds, with strong emphasis on diversity. Suffolk University has a combined enrollment of more than 9,300 full-time and part-time students at its Law School, College of Arts and Sciences and Sawyer Business School.

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Posted by: DonoghueMP | February 4, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

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