New PA Poll Shows Clinton, Obama Leading McCain, but Clinton Stronger

Posted on May 12, 2008. Filed under: Presidential Election |

A new statewide poll released Friday, May 9, with Pennsylvania likely voters conducted by Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Polling and Research, Inc., shows Hillary Clinton beating John McCain in a hypothetical general election match-up by a 49/38 margin if she is the Democratic nominee, while Barack Obama leads McCain by a closer 46/39 margin.  The current poll was conducted May 1-6 with 800 registered likely voters and has a margin of error of 3.4% at the 95% confidence level; the calls were made from our telephone call center in downtown Harrisburg using live survey interviewers.   

          “Both Clinton and Obama lead McCain at this stage of the game, but the fact that Obama’s margin over McCain is 7 points compared to 11 points for Clinton shows how much more competitive the state is for McCain with Obama as the Democratic nominee,” said President Jim Lee.  The key difference in the poll seems to be Clinton’s strength in the Southwest region of the state, where she leads McCain by a 51/34 margin, but with an Obama ticket in November McCain leads 45/34, which is a 28-point swing in support.  This means the Southwest region of the state, where Democrats are more culturally conservative on social issues like gun control, abortion and gay marriage and have voting patterns similar to so-called “Reagan Democrats”, can really be the deciding factor in November because this is an area that in past elections has been reliably good for Republicans at the statewide level for both former and current President Bush, former US Senator Rick Santorum and others.  

Most other areas of the state don’t show much of a disparity whether Obama or Clinton is the Democratic nominee.  For instance, both Clinton and Obama beat McCain in the Southeast and Philadelphia by near equal margins, while the Northeast and “T”/Central parts of the state are dead heats regardless of who is the Democratic nominee.  However, McCain leads both Clinton and Obama in the conservative, Republican South Central/Harrisburg region which includes counties like Lancaster, Cumberland, Perry, Adams and York.

Clinton also does better against McCain with white, working class voters than does Obama, a point she has stressed all along in key battleground states, which is a core demographic group in the Southwest and accounts for 43% of all voters polled in the survey.  For instance, among all white voters in the poll with no college degree, Clinton beats McCain 47/41, whereas in an Obama/McCain match-up McCain holds an impressive 47/33 lead with these same voters, a swing of 20 points.  Among whites with a college degree or more, McCain and Clinton are nearly tied at 44/43, respectively, while Obama leads significantly over McCain by a 49/39 margin with this same group.  This means Obama has a lot of work to do to repair his image with white, working class voters before he can put Pennsylvania in the win column, Lee added.  Check out our website for the top line results and cross-tabulations showing support among various key demographic groups.



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