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Clinton Doubles Lead In Pennsylvania

Hillary Rodham Clinton has doubled her lead in Pennsylvania and now has a majority of Democrats’ support, according to a new poll out today.

Clinton now leads Barack Obama 51 to 35 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, according to the Franklin and Marshall College Poll. In February, the same poll found that Clinton was ahead by half that margin, 44 to 37 percent.

The Franklin and Marshall survey comes on the heels of a poll by Quinnipiac University released Tuesday. It also showed Clinton doubling her lead, with 53 to 41 percent over Obama this week, up from 49 to 43 percent in late February.

The Franklin and Marshall poll was conducted in Pennsylvania after the controversial video of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright—the retired pastor of Obama’s church in Chicago—was widely aired on television and the Internet.

Another survey of likely Democratic primary voters on March 15 and 16, by Public Policy Polling, showed Clinton with a 56 to 30 percent lead over Obama. In that, as in the Franklin and Marshall survey, Clinton was making small inroads among blacks, winning 27 percent of their support. She led 63 to 23 percent among whites.

Before this month, Obama was gaining ground in Pennsylvania. But it now appears he has returned to a distant second. The Clinton campaign hopes to make the Pennsylvania contest a referendum on Obama’s electability. Obama still has more delegates, and his campaign is looking beyond Pennsylvania to later primary contests, in part because they view Clinton’s advantages in the state as difficult to surmount.

For now, however, the plan is to still compete heavily in Pennsylvania, according to an Obama advisor. In past contests, the more Obama has campaigned throughout a state, the more he narrows Clinton’s lead. But recent polling shows that the opposite has been the case in Pennsylvania, so far. Pennsylvania is also a closed primary, which negates Obama’s advantage with independents.

The Franklin and Marshall poll also found that a vast majority of likely voters—85 percent—are “certain” about their vote choice. Clinton’s lead transcends regions, though she is weakest in the southeast part of the state. Obama is ahead in Philadelphia, in part because he enjoys the overwhelming support of African Americans there.

Among likely voters, Clinton currently wins 57 percent of women while she splits men with Obama. Both Franklin and Marshall and Quinnipiac have Clinton leading among white men and winning white women two to one, numbers reminiscent of her strongest performances in prior states.

Quinnipiac found that she is roughly ahead by 10 percentage points among white men, winning 52 percent, while she wins 68 percent of white women.

Clinton is currently winning 57 percent of white likely voters, according to Franklin and Marshall. She is strongest among middle- and working-class voters, while she and Obama roughly split those making at least $75,000 in household income.

The survey of 464 randomly selected registered Democrats in Pennsylvania was conducted March 11th to 16th, and has a sampling error of 5.7 percent among likely Democratic voters.