Democrat Barack Obama suffered in the polls Thursday after a much-acclaimed speech on race that, pundits said, had failed to defuse voters' anger over rage-filled sermons by his former pastor.
Waging an acrimonious battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democrats' White House nomination, Obama confessed to being bruised by the controversy surrounding his longtime Chicago preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
A clutch of polls released since Tuesday pointed to an erosion of Obama's support, with white working-class voters and independents especially alienated. That could hurt him in the Democrats' next primary in Pennsylvania on April 22.
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll found Clinton pulling into a seven-point lead nationally over Obama, 49 percent to 42 percent. It was Clinton's first statistically significant lead over Obama in more than a month.
"The initial indications are that the speech has not halted Clinton's gaining momentum, as she led by a similar margin in Tuesday night's polling as compared to Monday night's polling," Gallup said.
The poll also found Republican nominee-elect John McCain benefiting from the Democratic brawling. The Arizona senator had an edge of 47 percent to 43 percent over Obama, and a lead of 48 percent to 45 over Clinton.
Another survey by Rasmussen gave Obama a favorable rating of 48 percent among voters. Just before the Wright videos emerged last week, Obama's rating was 52 percent.
CBS News poll numbers showed Obama still just ahead of Clinton among Democratic primary voters -- 46 percent to 43. But a month ago, his margin was far wider at 54 percent to 38.
I finally start liking Obama as a person, and I'm disliking his campaign more than ever. The electoral logic of his campaign was always wrong. He owes his lead to states neither he, nor any other Democrat, will win in a general: the moderate people in, say, Utah voted for Obama because for years they've heard Hillary was a socialist she-bitch, while the left people in these states are generally harder left than you'll find in a state like Texas or even California, and the hard left has also been taught to despise Hillary as a calculating, triangulating Republican-lite. These states are tailor made for a candidate running against her -- ie, Obama won those states not because of his brilliance as a candidate, but because he was running against Hillary. He won't be running against Hillary in a general.
And yet, he is being put forth as the best chance to win in the general, because of his alleged lack of "polarizing-ness." He's never been tested, hardly been vetted (I still don't understand why Wright wasn't found out about months ago. My guess is the Hillary camp knew, but couldn't do anything for fear of alienating blacks and being further attacked for "negative campaigning", while the press corps was too busy blowing McCain and savaging Hillary to pay attention to much else), never suffered from negative attacks (sorry Obamabots, the stuff Hillary has been throwing against him are creampuffs). As a black man and a Democrat, large numbers of voters are suspicious of him, and he has to tread carefully to avoid crossing whatever line it is that will make those people think of him as a Jesse Jackson-George McGovern hybrid. This is why his campaign is so cautious, and why he would be cautious in the White House if he won, and it's also why his reputation as being "unpolarizing" is suspect. And then there is his near-total lack of experience, which I've already rattled on about. He's an electoral bomb waiting to go off -- I've been privately thinking of him as "O-bomb-a."
Everything I can see says he's fragile. I will even admit I hope my analysis turns out to be wrong. But when one event is able to knock someone's poll numbers around like that after a year of campaigning, and after all the positive press he's received and all the negative press his opponent has received, that candidate is dangerous. I don't understand why so many Democrats aren't just taking the risk, but are eager to take it. He's a gifted man in many, many ways, I like him, I'd like to see him win the presidency, but he's also a gamble, and speaking for myself, I'd rather win ugly with Hillary -- win a bruising, 51% - 49% election -- than lose pretty, or any other way, with Obama.