- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads rival Sen. Barack Obama by 12 percentage points, enough for her to declare a major victory if she wins the crucial Pennsylvania primary by that much today in the bellwether districts of Pittsburgh and its Allegheny County suburbs, a new poll completed last night shows.

Mrs. Clinton of New York led Mr. Obama of Illinois by 52 percent to 40 percent in the bellwether area in the southeastern part of the state, once known as the steel capital of the world, according to a Suffolk University poll. The survey was conducted by David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

The same poll found the New York senator beating Mr. Obama by 52 percent to 42 percent statewide among 600 randomly chosen registered Democrats likely to vote in the Democratic primary today.

The poll had a margin of error four percentage points.

Mr. Paleologos said the poll he conducted for Suffolk University interviewed 402 likely Democratic voters from a randomly selected list of 5,000 Allegheny County, Pa. residents. The interviews were done by phone Sunday and yesterday. Suffolk bellwether polling has produced accurate results in the past. Its poll of the Florida’s bellwether Hillsborough County “almost exactly matched the statewide Republican Primary results,” the Suffolk poll summary noted Monday night. And on Jan. 8, the New Hampshire presidential primary bellwether towns of Kingston and Sandown accurately predicted a Clinton win. No other leading indicator in the country had Mrs. Clinton winning, the Suffolk summary noted. “Past bellwether performance is a guide but not a 100 percent guarantee of future performance,” Mr. Paleologos said. “New bellwethers are often created every election cycle as people migrate, and as development and geography-driven issues emerge.” He also noted that local endorsements from popular people can enhance margins. Mr. Obama won endorsements from some notable sports figures in the Pittsburgh area, including Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Steelers Franco Harris, Dwight White, J.T. Thomas, Robin Cole, Edmund Nelson and Larry Brown. A double-digit victory in populous and delegate-rich Pennsylvania, though not predicted by most other polls, would assure that Mrs. Clinton will remain in the contest. The trend toward a possible major Clinton win was also reflected in a Newsmax/Zogby poll that has Mrs. Clinton leading by 10 points - 51 percent to 41 percent. The Sunday-Monday telephone tracking poll, released early today, shows she gained three percentage points in 24 hours, while the Illinois senator lost one point. The Zogby result puts her beyond the poll’s error margin and points to a statistically significant lead for the first time in his tracking of the Keystone State. The Zogby polls has an error margin of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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