- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

Democrats see Sen. Barack Obama as more inspiring but less experienced than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, while Republicans think Sen. John McCain is electable but are divided about his conservatism, according to a poll released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The poll, released Wednesday, shows “that certain images have taken hold for the leading candidates in the campaign,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center.

Democrats gave Mr. Obama better marks than Mrs. Clinton on three positive candidate traits and two negative traits. By a margin of 54 percent to 20 percent, Democrats and Democratic leaners think Mr. Obama is more “inspiring.”

Twice as many Democrats think Mr. Obama is more “likely to bring about change” than is Mrs. Clinton. They also consider Mr. Obama more “honest” and “trustworthy” by a 19-point margin: 40 percent to 21 percent.

More people think Mrs. Clinton was “prepared to lead” the country, and fewer think she is “too inexperienced,” though she received more votes from those surveyed who said she “doesn’t stand for anything” and is “hard to like.”

The Democratic results reflect how the candidates have framed their candidacy: Mr. Obama as the agent of change and Mrs. Clinton as the candidate ready to lead the nation, said David Lublin, professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University.

Mr. Lublin pointed out the vast leads in favor of Mr. Obama in several categories, though nearly twice as many Democrats think Mr. Obama was more inexperienced.

Mr. Lublin also mentioned that 42 percent of Democrats found Mrs. Clinton “hard to like.” A party’s nominee is usually well-liked by a majority of the party, he said.

The results show the interplay between the ability to inspire and the ability to lead, Mr. Lublin said.

“We just have one president who’s supposed to be head of state and head of government. The inspiration trait seems to link to the leadership aspects of being head of state,” he said.

The Pew Research Center highlighted mixed feelings among Republicans toward front-runner Mr. McCain.

At least 70 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners think he is “honest,” “trustworthy,” electable, and of “admirable character.” Meanwhile, at least 50 percent think he “can’t control his temper” and is “too old for the job.” Mr. McCain is 71.

The party was split on the question of whether Mr. McCain is “a true conservative,” with 44 percent saying the Arizona senator is one and 46 percent saying he is not.

The poll surveyed 1,007 adults from Feb. 8 to Monday.


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