Obama Leading In Latest Gallup National Tracking Poll — Wright Controversy Had No Major Impact

March 22, 2008 | Posted by Ashish

After over a week of speculation by the mainstream media over whether the Rev. Wright “scandal” would wreck Barack Obama’s campaign, the numbers are in. The result? It won’t.

Obama took a hit in national polls earlier in the week, but as I stated a few days ago, the hit was short term and he is now once again leading in Gallup’s national tracking poll.

As you can see, Obama is now back to more or less the exact same lead he had prior to the Wright story breaking (the Wright story broke on the night 14th/15th and Obama led 48-45 on the 15th). He suffered a bit of a drop for a few days and is now back to where he started, leading 48-45. It’ll be interesting to see the trend in the coming days. Obama has hit the 50% mark only once so far. And while national polls are worthless now in terms of predicting who will win upcoming states, they are an important tool to determine the national perception of candidates as well as how the general public reacts to the various storylines of the campaign. If Richardson’s endorsement has any impact on actual voters (and I predict it won’t), it should start showing up in this tracking poll on Monday, though any positive movement for Obama will likely have more to do with the Wright story fading and the continued viral distribution of his race speech impacting new people than it would Richardson’s endorsement (endorsements this year have usually had no impact at all on polls).

It’s hard to make any sort of convincing case that the Wright situation is a “scandal ruining the Obama campaign” when the polls show that it had a minor short-term impact that has already faded. Obama’s numbers DID drop after the controversy broke (he fell as low as 42% in the graph above), but instead of continuing to drop like the media expected, they slowed, then stopped (at 42%), and now have climbed back up again to the same levels he was at prior to the Wright story breaking (48%).

But the really interesting news comes from the polls regarding what Americans thought of the Wright controversy and of Obama’s race speech, and how all of them say more or less the same thing — the vast majority of people didn’t care about the Wright situation enough to impact who they prefer. I reported on the FOX News poll from a few days ago already but here is the latest one…

CBS poll:
– 69% of those who saw or heard about the speech said Obama did a good job.
– 71% said Obama did a good job explaining the Wright situation.
– 70% said the Wright controversy has had no impact on who they support. Out of the remaining 30%, 14% actually said that the situation has made them MORE LIKELY to support Obama.

We saw Bill Richardson’s reaction to the speech, as it was apparently enough to motivate him to finally endorse Obama despite his long history with the Clintons. And finally, we’re beginning to see a few responsible members of the mainstream media take some of their colleagues to task about the poor job they have done in the past week accurately reporting the facts. I suspect there is a major media backlash brewing right now that will ultimately end up boosting Obama, just like it boosted Clinton prior to New Hampshire when the media unfairly started to attack her. It works both ways, and the national tracking polls are showing that people aren’t buying into media fabrication, aren’t buying into the Wright “scandal” as being significant, and viewed Obama’s speech positively.


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