leads by eight points among Democratic primary voters nationwide, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. But fewer expect Obama to be the Democratic nominee than did one month ago, and fewer see him as the Democrat with the best chance of beating presumptive GOP nominee in November.
Obama leads Clinton 46 percent to 38 percent among Democrats who have either already voted in a primary contest or still plan to, with 14 percent saying they are undecided or don't know whom they support. The eight-point margin marks an increase from April 3rd, when Obama led Clinton by three points.
But a smaller percentage of Democratic primary voters now see Obama, who has been on the defensive following revelations of his controversial former pastor's statements and his leaked comments that some voters had become "bitter," as their party's likely nominee. Fifty-one percent now say they expect Obama to win the nomination, down from 69 percent on April 3rd, while thirty-four percent now expect Clinton to be the nominee, up from 21 percent a month ago.
And while Obama continues to have an advantage over Clinton when it comes to which candidate is seen as more electable, the gap has narrowed there as well. Today, 48 percent of Democratic primary voters think Obama has the best chance of defeating McCain in November, down 8 points from a month ago. Thirty-seven percent say Clinton is more likely to beat McCain.
General Election Battle:
Complete CBS News Polls:
The General Election
The Democratic Race
In a head-to-head match-up with McCain, Clinton fared better than her rival: The New York senator led McCain 48 percent to 43 percent among all registered voters, while Obama and McCain were tied at 45 percent.
Four weeks ago, Obama held a five point lead over McCain. Since then, Obama has lost support among women, particularly white women, while Clinton has maintained her five-point edge.
McCain leads Obama 47 percent to 44 percent among all female registered voters. That marks a 16 point swing from a month ago, when Obama led McCain 51 percent to 38 percent among the group. Among white women, McCain has extended his edge over Obama from four points to seventeen. He leads Obama 55 percent to 38 percent among the group.
Women favor Clinton over McCain 53 percent to 40 percent.
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Obama's unfavorable rating has risen over the past month. On April 3rd, he was viewed favorably by 43 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 24 percent. Now he is viewed favorably by 39 percent and unfavorably by 34 percent - a ten point increase in unfavorable rating.
Clinton and McCain are also seen less favorably then a month ago, though the change in responses has been small. Clinton is seen favorably by 36 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 42 percent. McCain has a 33 percent favorability rating and 34 percent unfavorable.
McCain is viewed as the best of the three candidates on handling an international crisis - 53 percent of registered voters say they have confidence in him to do so, versus 39 percent for Obama. He is also seen as the most patriotic, with 92 percent identifying him as such. Eight-seven percent of registered voters said the same of Clinton, and just 75 percent said Obama is patriotic.
Obama is seen by the highest percentage of voters as having the right temperament for the job, as well as caring about the "needs and problems of people like you." Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by the highest percentage of voters as the candidate highly influenced by special interests.
Though the head-to-head match ups are tight between the Democratic and Republican candidates, registered voters have a significantly higher opinion of the Democratic Party than they do of the Republican Party.
The Democratic Party has a 52 percent favorable rating among registered voters, while the GOP has a 33 percent favorable rating. The unfavorable ratings for the two parties are 41 percent for Democrats and 58 percent for Republicans.
The Democratic Battle:
Clinton is getting the support of white, blue-collar Democratic primary voters nationwide - they break for her over Obama 61 percent to 23 percent. Democrats under age 45 back Obama, while Clinton has an edge among older voters. Obama wins the support of men while Clinton gets the support of women.
Fifty percent of Clinton supporters say they would be dissatisfied if Obama becomes the party's nominee. Fewer Obama backers would be unhappy if Clinton got the nod, with 35 percent saying they would be dissatisfied.
Thirty-five percent of Clinton voters say they would vote for McCain in the fall if Obama is the Democratic nominee. Twenty-three percent of Obama supporters say they would crossover if Clinton heads the ticket.
By contrast, more than eight in ten voters who call themselves Republicans say they will vote for McCain in November over either Obama or Clinton.
A majority of both Obama and Clinton voters say they would favor of a so-called "Dream Ticket" involving both candidates.
More than two in three Democratic primary voters say their nominee will not be clear until the party's convention in late August. Forty-three percent say that if the nomination race continues through the summer it will hurt the eventual nominee's chances in the general election.
The Parties, The Economy, The War, And The Media:
More Americans think the Democratic Party comes closer than the Republican Party to sharing their moral values (50 percent to 34 percent). The Democratic Party also fares better when voters are asked which party is better equipped Party to improve health care (63 percent say Democrats, while 19 percent say Republicans), which will ensure a strong economy (56 percent say Democrats, 28 percent say Republicans), and which will make the right decisions about the war in Iraq (50 percent say Democrats, 34 percent say Republicans).
But Republicans have a two to one advantage on one critical issue: Sixty percent say Republicans would do a better job at making sure U.S. military defenses are strong. Twenty-seven percent say the same of Democrats.
Registered voters overwhelmingly expect a Democrat to win the general election, rather than a Republican. Fifty-six percent say a Democrat will win in November, while 32 percent say a Republican will be victorious. That number has slipped slightly since April 3rd, however, when sixty-one percent expected a Democratic winner.
Forty-three percent of registered voters say the economy is the issue the most want to hear the candidates discuss. Seventeen percent cite the war in Iraq, 9 percent cite health care, and 7 percent cite gas prices.
More than three in four Americans believe the economy overall is in bad shape, and the number of adults who can't quite pay their bills has risen 10 points since February, to nearly one in four Americans. Roughly half of those surveyed say they are making just enough to keep up with their bills and obligations.
Only 21 percent of Americans approve of the job President Bush is doing handling the economy, while 74 percent disapprove - the highest number of his presidency. The President's overall job approval is at 28 percent, the same as one month ago. Congress's job approval rating is even lower - 21 percent.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans think the U.S. should never have gotten involved in Iraq in the first place. Nearly two in three voters want the next president to end the war in Iraq in a year or two no matter what happens on the ground there. More than three in four voters think the next president should be flexible about when to withdraw U.S. troops, rather than stay in Iraq until the U.S. succeeds.
If McCain is elected president, 28 percent of Republican primary voters say they would like to see him continue Bush's policies. Forty-four percent would like to see him pursue more conservative policies, while 19 percent would like to see him pursue less conservative policies. A plurality - 39 percent - expects McCain to pursue less conservative policies than Bush if elected.
Voters continue to think the news media have been hardest on Clinton. One in three say the media have been harder on her than on the other presidential candidates, while just 8 percent say they have been easier on her.
Twenty-two percent now think the media have been harder on Obama, up from 15 percent last month. Twenty-four percent say the media have been easier on him than other candidates.
McCain is perceived as having the easiest time of the three candidates. Just 8 percent think he has been treated more harshly than the other presidential candidates, while 28 percent think he has had it easier.
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1065 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 25-29, 2008. 956 registered voters were interviewed, including a Democratic primary voter sample of 402. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points, and three points for registered voters. The error for the sample of Democratic primary voters is five points. The error for subgroups is higher.