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New InsiderAdvantage Poll Obama Leads Big In North Carolina

Compiled from InsiderAdvantage and Southern Political Report staff

March 27, 2008Hillary Clinton desperately needs to claim more white votes if she is to win a desperately needed primary by taking the Democratic presidential contest in North Carolina May 6.

But with five weeks to go, undecided whites likely to vote in that primary are, if anything, slowly moving to Obama’s column, or may be ready to.

Here are the results of our North Carolina poll from Wednesday night:

If you are voting in the Democratic primary and the election were held today, who would you vote for?”

Barack Obama (49%)
Hillary Clinton (34%)
Undecided (17%)

The poll was conducted by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion on March 26. It sampled 406 likely voters in the May 6 North Carolina Democratic presidential primary. The margin of error is plus or minus 5%. The data have been weighted for age, race, gender and party affiliation.

“Firewall state” has been the king of clichés during this campaign season, but that term has never applied more than North Carolina does for Clinton. If she loses badly here, regardless of any modest gains in the national delegate count, her candidacy may be done unless her primary victories in Florida and Michigan somehow end up being seated at the national nominating convention.

Most troubling for Clinton is that the trends in our polling of North Carolina show that a modest but significant portion of whites are drifting from Clinton back into the “undecided” column. Twenty percent of whites are undecided.

Usually voters who change their minds do so gradually,” said Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “A voter who’s going to switch from Clinton to Obama likely will first say they are undecided, and only later make a complete switch from her to him,” he said.

Our new poll also indicates that the controversy about Barack Obama’s fiery former church pastor so far isn’t alienating enough whites to significantly boost Clinton’s chances for a comeback in the Democratic race, at least in North Carolina.

The state is not an open primary state.  Registered Republicans can’t vote in the Democratic primary. (And likely wouldn’t in large numbers anyway, despite the hypothetical temptation to deliberately cast mischievous votes in the Democratic primary that could skew the results. There’s a governor’s race on the ballot, too, so Republicans would have incentive to “stay home” and vote in the GOP primary.)

However, it’s key in North Carolina that registered “unaffiliated” voters can vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primaries.

These unaffiliated voters – North Carolina political lingo for “independents” – have to be giving hope to the Clinton camp that they might be a conduit of racial unease to transfer white votes to her.

So far, it isn’t happening.  Click here for the crosstabs.


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