Obama's Minister Problem

It's starting to look like Barack Obama is paying a political price for the hate-filled rhetoric of his longtime pastor and spiritual mentor (Obama's description), the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.'s latest polls show John McCain leading Obama 46 to 45 percent, even though Obama was ahead in 14 of 16 polls taken between February 1 and March 2. Currently, Scott Rasmussen's poll has McCain leading Obama 48 to 42 percent; a week ago, he had McCain insignificantly ahead, 45 to 44 percent. Rasmussen has Obama's favorability declining from 52 percent on March 13 to 47 percent on March 17. He also shows Wright viewed favorably by just 8 percent of voters, while 73 percent consider his comments racially divisive. Note the varying responses of blacks and whites to Wright's remarks.

Rasmussen's figures no longer support the argument that Obama is a stronger general-election candidate than Hillary Clinton, at least right now. And he seems headed for a weaker showing in Pennsylvania than his 54-to-44 percent loss in Ohio.The RCP average in Pennsylvania is 52 to 36 percent. This just may be, as RCP's John McIntyre writes, "time to buy Hillary Clinton." And, he might have added, John McCain.

By Michael Barone