Poll: Pa. Voters Willing To Cross Party Lines If Favorites Lose

This story was written by Brandon Taylor, Daily Collegian
As the race for the Pennsylvania nomination nears its final days, Pennsylvania Statee University students such as Chelsea Siaca have become so dedicated to their preferred Democratic candidate that they're willing to cross party lines if that candidate doesn't win.

Siaca, a senior in international politics, says she will support Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., if her candidate, Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., doesn't win.

"I don't agree with many things Obama has done or said," Siaca said. "I don't think it would be ethical on my part to vote for him. It's not about the parties. It's about the candidates."

According to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll published Tuesday, the ideological gap between the supporters of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., might, in fact, be too large to bridge.

In the poll, a quarter of Clinton supporters said they would vote for McCain in November if Obama wins the Democratic nomination. Nineteen percent of Obama supporters would switch to McCain if Clinton were the Democratic nominee, according to the poll.

Penn State Students for Barack Obama president Michael Stewart said he isn't surprised fellow voters would have strong feelings about their candidates at this point.

"We're at the home stretch," Stewart said. "People are getting riled up and excited, which could lead them to make that statement."

As for his own preferences if Obama lost, Stewart said he could be conflicted.

"It would take some soul searching on my part," Stewart said. "I don't know if I'd work for Senator Clinton. But based on their closeness on policy, I will support the Democratic nominee, whoever it may be."

Other students feel party loyalties are important especially after eight years under a Republican president.

"If Barack loses, I'd support Hillary," said Donald Ferguson, a junior in crime law and justice. "I don't like McCain. He's rushing into things and seems set on staying in Iraq."

Robert Speel, an associate professor of political science at Penn State Erie, said strong loyalty for a particular candidate is not uncommon.

"Some Clinton and Obama supporters feel strongly for their candidates," he said. "They get angry when their candidate is attacked from the opposing campaign and feel they can't vote for any other candidate because of this."

With many voters, these feelings may only be "temporary passion." For others, the remarks may be genuine if their preferred candidate doesn't win, Speel said.

The poll also showed that Clinton's lead over Obama has remained unchanged over the last week, staying at 50-44 percent. Between March 18 and April 8, Clinton's lead over Obama narrowed to 53-41 percent.

Despite Obama's remarks about some Pennsylvanians being "bitter," the poll found this not to be a contribution to Obama's stalemate with Clinton.

"I don't think this poll has reflected how Pennsylvanians have reacted to Sen. Obama's remarks," said Emily Cain, a Clinton Pennsylvania spokeswoman. "Sen. Clinton has been crisscrossing Pennsylvania laying out her plan and what she's going to do to turn the economy around. I think Pennsylvanians are paying attention to this."

A KDKA-TV poll released Tuesday and conducted by Survey USA showed Clinton in the lead by 14 points, Cain said.

However, a poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling showed Obama ahead of Clinton, 45-42, with a three-point margin of error.

"We're very confident about Pennsylvania," Cain said. "Senator Clinton said she is going to take it all the way through June. She's going to work hard to earn every vote."
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE
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