- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tuesday’s victories for Barack Obama and John McCain indicate the field may soon be narrowing. This trend was confirmed by the latest Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports poll.

When asked if the presidential election were held today, which party would be their preference, 37 percent of respondents said they would definitely vote for the Democratic candidate, and 10 percent said they would probably vote for the Democratic candidate. Just 17 percent said they would definitely vote for the Republican candidate, and 12 percent said they would probably vote for the Republican candidate. A substantial margin of adults, 19 percent, said it’s “too early to tell” which party they’d be voting for.

The poll of 1,000 adults also measured how respondents approach the task of evaluating a presidential candidate. According to the poll, 72 of voters say they’ll cast their vote for a president “based on facts about the candidate” while 19 percent said they will vote “based on a feeling about a candidate.” The survey was conducted February 12-13 and contained a 3-point margin of error.

Members of both parties are deeply concerned with the issue of electability, and are weighing various scenarios before making their choice. In a candidate matchup question of a Reuters/Zogby poll released Wednesday, Mr. Obama defeats Mr. McCain 47 percent to 40 percent, and leads among independents and among all age groups except those age 70 and above. However, in the same poll, Mr. McCain defeats Mrs. Clinton 50 percent to 38 percent in a similar matchup.

There is more troubling news for Republicans. In Wisconsin, a state that went to John Kerry in 2004 by a slim margin (Kerry received 1.489 million votes to George Bush’s 1.478 million) and Al Gore in 2000 (1.243 million votes for Mr. Gore and 1.237 million for Mr. Bush), that trend of voters turning out in roughly equal margins has dissipated, at least this primary season.

Astonishingly, Mrs. Clinton, who lost Wisconsin to Mr. Obama (58 percent to 41 percent), received more than twice as many ballots as Mr. McCain — 452,795 votes vs. Mr. McCain’s 224,226. In fact, the total of all Wisconsin Republican ballots, including Mike Huckabee and “other” candidates, was just 409,346. This contrasts sharply with Wisconsin Democrats, who received more than 1.1 million ballots. Clearly, Democrats are energized and their get-out-the-vote efforts are effective.


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