- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A new Pennsylvania poll shows presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holding a narrow lead against Sen. Barack Obama as the two Democrats prepare for a televised debate tonight in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Clinton of New York has a 6 point advantage, 46 to 40 percent, and a slightly wider lead among voters including those leaning toward either candidate, 49 to 42 percent, according to the Franklin and Marshall College Poll released this morning.

“The Clinton people have got to be nervous. He’s lurking there just 6, 7 or 8 points away,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs that conducts the poll at the college in Lancaster, Pa.,

Mr. Obama of Illinois, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, has narrowed the race since the college’s poll showed him trailing 51 to 35 last month, despite the recent furor over his remarks at a private San Francisco fund-raiser that “bitter” small-town Pennsylvania voters are not supporting him because they “cling” to guns, religion and anti-immigrant views.

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  • “She seems to have stopped [the Obama] surge,” he said. “For Hillary, she has to be sitting on pins and needles, hoping that he doesn’t regain that momentum.”

    Mr. Obama continues to lead in Philadelphia, 50 percent to 34 percent , and the surrounding southeast region, 51 percent to 38 percent, as the campaigns close in on the state’s primary Tuesday, which Mrs. Clinton needs to win decisively to help her stay in the race.

    About 8 percent of likely Democratic voters statewide remain undecided, according to the poll, which has been regularly surveying public opinion in the state since 1992.

    The poll showed the state’s Democrats think the news media have been tougher on Mrs. Clinton than on Mr. Obama, 39 percent to 5 percent, with about half saying the two candidates received about the same treatment.

    Nearly all Democrats, 94 percent, have seen a television ad for the Obama campaign and nearly nine in ten — 88 percent — have seen a Clinton ad. They credit Mr. Obama’s ads with being more effective than Mrs. Clinton’s and say her ads have been more negative, the poll showed.

    The complete data from the April poll and past polls is available at https://www.fandm.edu/politics.xml.

    Mrs. Clinton maintains her lead among her core constituencies of women (49 to 39), older voters (47 to 36), Catholics (59 to 25), union households (44 to 33), voters with high school education or less (50 to 33), and voters with incomes less than $35,000 (57 to 25).

    Mr. Obama leads among younger voters (58 to 38), non-whites (67 to 19), voters with incomes over $75,000 (46 to 42), and self-described liberals (49 to 39), according to the poll.

    Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama split the male vote, each capturing 41 percent, the poll showed.

    The economy is the issue Democrats most often cite as most important in their vote choice, followed by the Iraq war and health care.

    Clinton supporters most often cite health care — 33 percent — as the issue they think of first when they hear her name, followed by the economy at 20 percent. The Iraq war is what Obama supporters think of — 25 percent — and the economy second at 17 percent, the poll showed.

    The poll of 547 registered Democrats in Pennsylvania, of whom 367 were likely voters, was conducted April 8-13 and the findings have a margin of error of 4.2 percent for registered voters and 5.1 percent for likely voters.

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