A Better Uniter?
Addressing a former pastor's impolitic racial remarks in a speech today, Sen. Barack Obama attempted to reassert himself as the candidate best able unite the country.
Throughout the early nominating contests Obama held an edge over Sen. Hillary Clinton as a "uniter," and in a new Newsweek national poll the Illinois senator had a 21-point advantage as the Democratic candidate more apt to "bring the country together." But Reverend Jeremiah Wright's explosive comments threatened Obama's positioning.
In a new CBS News poll out today, nearly six in 10 registered voters said they had heard about Rev. Wright's inflammatory words, and among those whose opinions of Obama changed as a result, the impact was overwhelmingly negative; 30 percent said the statements made them think less favorably toward Obama, just 2 percent had more positive views.
At the same time, nearly two-thirds of all voters said their opinion of Obama was unchanged by the controversy. Among Democrats, more than three-quarters said their views of Obama were unmoved.
Here are the data from Democratic exit polls: In 23 states that have already had presidential nomination votes, exit polls show that for the most part, voters give Obama an edge over Clinton as the candidate more likely to unite the nation (by an average of 15 points). But in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida and Clinton's home state of Arkansas, the former first lady held the edge. Exit pollsters have not asked this question since Wisconsin's primary on Feb. 19.
Obama also had double-digit advantages on this question among whites in many states, although white voters were almost always more likely than black voters to say Clinton would be more likely to unite the nation.
Obama's strong support from African Americans also extends to this question: in states where analysis of the black vote is possible, an average of 76 percent of black voters said Obama would be better at uniting the country.
Q: Regardless of how you voted today, which one of these candidates would be most likely to unite the country if elected president?
Obama- Obama Clinton Clinton N.H. 51% 28% +23 S.C. 55 26 +29 Fla. 36 42 -6 Ala. 53 38 +15 Ark. 30 61 -31 Ariz. 52 36 +16 Calif. 46 41 +5 Conn. 54 36 +18 Dela. 57 34 +23 Ga. 66 25 +41 Ill. 64 29 +35 Mass. 47 44 +3 Mo. 52 37 +15 N.J. 47 44 +3 N.M. 51 37 +14 N.Y. 46 43 +3 Okla. 29 44 -15 Tenn. 41 49 -8 Utah 59 28 +31 La. 57 38 +19 Md. 67 30 +37 Va. 70 28 +42 Wisc. 63 35 +28
SOURCE: National Election Pool exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.
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