A Very Dynamic Race

An array of new polling data put today adds some granularity to the snapshot we've been working on. Globally, we have Gallup's daily tracking. Clinton leads Obama in the latest track; he has yet to drop below a floor of 46%; Clinton is averaging 10 points above her 41-42% ceiling. A new CNN/ORC poll taken at the height of the Rev. Wright cable news miasma shows a tie between Clinton and Obama. As in other surveys, more than 50% of Democrats expect Obama to win. (57% to 37%).

SEPARATELY, GALLUP aggregated its daily tracking for six days, and found that the general election coalitions of McCain and Clinton are typical: Clinton wins among women, African Americans, young voters, Americans with lower socioeconomic statuses, Catholics, seculars, Hispanics and unmarried adults. Clinton is particularly strong among women (she does better than Kerry did over Bush) but she takes less than 80% of the black vote, which can be interpreted in two ways: one, that's bad for a Democrat. Two, that's surprisingly good for Clinton given the hardened polarization that has characterized the Democratic race. Obama's coalition is mostly like your average Democratic presidential candidate's, but with a few tweaks: he does better with black voters than Clinton, less well with Hispanics, less well with women and Catholics and self-ID'd Democrats. He does better with independents and better with richer Americans.

The table below summarizes the split.

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IN PEW'S LATEST SURVEY, taken before Wright's press conference at the National Press Club, Obama and Clinton each claimed the backing of half the party. Notably, since March, Clinton has lost about 50% of her black support (22% down to 11%), a sign that the racial polarization within the party is hardening. Clinton has improved her lot among white voters across the board, gaining in every income and educational category. Clinton now leads Obama among white males by 10 points, leading Pew to conclude that race and class are driving the shift in preferences. Democrats have a very positive view of Obama, although his numbers dropped slightly since March. Note to the media: twice as many Democrats think Hillary Clinton is arrogant. CNN's poll shows Obama and Clinton beating McCain just slightly with no appreciable difference between the two Democrats. Pew concludes that "there is no indication that either Obama or Clinton have been weakened in general election matchups against John McCain." But it reports that 65% of Democrats say they're certain to vote the Democrat in the next election versus 80% of Republicans who say they're certain to vote for McCain. There are more self-identified Democrats than Republicans, but the trends suggest that the enthusiasm Democrats once held for the idea of change and for their party has been transferred to particular candidates. Good news for Dems: nearly 90% of them say they're looking forward to the election, versus just 54% of Republicans with similar feelings.