wright fall-out for obama

Posted on May 3, 2008

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Well, it looks like the halo over Senator Barack Obama’s head is starting to lose its shine.

It took Obama’s former pastor, the incendiary Reverend Jeremiah Wright, to cause likely voters to take a longer, harder look at Obama. And they don’t seem to like what they see after the hullabaloo of the past week, going by new polls.

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, only 30 per cent of those surveyed thought Obama broke with his pastor because he was truly angry with what he said.

58 per cent thought Rev. Wright’s words were prescient, that Obama was just another politician, and dumped Wright for his own political expedience.

People were not fooled by the hastily-called news conference the Obama campaign arranged on Tuesday for the candidate to denounce Wright and distance himself after a 20-year relationship between the two men.

52 per cent thought Obama was not surprised by Wright’s controversial views, as the candidate had claimed, while only 33 per cent thought Wright’s words at the recent National Press Club, which included his reiteration that the US government unleashed AIDS on minorities and brought terrorism upon the nation with its policies, took Obama by surprise.

Perhaps more damagingly, more than half of the respondents (56%), felt that Obama is at least “somewhat likely” to “share some of Pastor Wright’s controversial views about the United States.”

More bad news for the Obama camp on other fronts too.

The latest Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll saw the lead that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has over Obama in a hypothetical match-up open up, 48 per cent to 42 per cent. Before the Wright controversy, they were even at 46 per cent.

His remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, improved in the fight against him in the race for the nomination. She now has a 46 per cent rating, compared to Obama’s 44 per cent. Close, but it is still a demonstration of the tide turning against Obama, who was eight points ahead of Clinton before the Wright saga blew up in his face.

Obama remains on track to win the North Carolina primary next week, but his lead over Clinton there has shrunk from double to single digits. Meanwhile, Clinton seems to have gained in Indiana, according to the Rasmussen poll, with a five-point lead.

Even if Obama eventually beats Clinton to clinch the Democratic Party nomination, it looks like the Wright controversy will continue to dog him in November. The superdelegates might have to ponder very carefully about which horse to back if they are keen on winning back the White House.

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