Posted March 31, 2008 – A newly released national poll shows that Sen. Barack Obama seemingly has weathered the controversy surrounding his fiery former pastor, surging back ahead of Sen. Hillary by 10 percentage points over the past several days. But for those who think the long, lanky lawmaker from Illinois is guaranteed a place as America ’s first Black president, the poll provided some cautions.
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For many Americans – even among the older, White, working-class Democrats who see Obama’s personal image as more favorable than Clinton ’s – there are certain “social beliefs and attitudes” that make Obama vulnerable.
“In particular, White Democrats who hold unfavorable views of Obama are much more likely than those who have favorable opinions of him to say that equal rights for minorities have been pushed too far; they also are more likely to disapprove of interracial dating, and are more concerned about the threat that immigrants may pose to American values,” Pew noted in its summary.
In short, the center says, “more conservative beliefs about equal rights and race are not only related to negative opinions of Obama among Democrats, suggesting the potential for defections among Democratic voters, but also are associated with negative views of him in the electorate at large.”
In addition, almost one in four White Democrats (23 percent) think negatively of Obama believe he is "Muslim.” This concern likely suggests that mud slung by anti-Obama forces has stuck. Opponents have sought to exploit the fact that “Obama” sounds an awful lot like “Osama,” America ’s public enemy No. 1, and his middle name, “Hussein,” is shared by another dreaded U.S. enemy, Saddam.
As for the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, while most people who heard clips of the fiery sermons of Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor said they were offended by them and a sizable number of people even said they now have a less favorable opinion of the presidential candidate, Obama maintains a 10-percent lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton. Still, Pew notes, “there is potential for future reverberations from the Wright controversy if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.”
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