NEWSWEEK POLL: The Stalemate Continues, Hillary Clinton has Battled Back to a Virtual Dead Heat With Barack Obama On The Major Issues, the Economy, Neither Candidate is Pulling Ahead

WEB EXCLUSIVE

By Tony Dokoupil



    NEW YORK, March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Sen. Hillary Clinton's primary
 victories in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island have revived her near-dead
 campaign and brought her into a statistical dead heat with Sen. Barack
 Obama among registered Democrats and Democratic leaners, according to a new
 national Newsweek Poll. The survey found that Clinton has erased the
 once-commanding lead that Obama held in most national polls following his
 11 straight victories in February's primaries and caucuses. Obama is the
 favored nominee among 45 percent of Democrats, compared with 44 percent for
 Clinton, according to the poll, which was based on telephone interviews
 with 1,215 registered voters March 5-6.
 
     The poll also found that Democratic voters are ready to rally around
 the candidate they trust most to improve the economy, amid fears of a
 recession. But neither candidate has been able to lock up that issue, or
 many others, and the vast majority (69 percent) of Democratic voters now
 support the idea of a "dream ticket" -- leaving aside the crucial question
 of who runs on top.
 
     What's striking is that the fundamentals remain largely the same. Obama
 gets overwhelming support from blacks (80 percent to 10 percent), those
 under 40 (60 percent to 35 percent) and voters who have graduated from
 college (50 percent to 41 percent); Hillary wins the majority of whites (53
 percent to 35 percent), voters over 60 (51 percent to 33 percent) and those
 who have a high- school education or less (48 percent to 38 percent). Along
 gender lines, Obama wins male voters by a 10-point margin (50 percent to 40
 percent), while Clinton retains her lead with female voters (46 percent to
 40 percent).
 
     Close to half (47 percent) of Democrats and Democratic leanders said
 that "the economy and jobs" would determine their ballot, but voters are
 split on which candidate they trust more on this topic (Obama, 43 percent;
 Clinton, 42 percent). Another quarter of voters cited health care, and 16
 percent said the Iraq War. While the ability to bring about change still
 matters most to Democrats (30 percent of respondents), experience is
 gaining ground, with 21 percent citing it as the quality they covet most in
 a candidate. That's up from 15 percent in the last Newsweek Poll in
 February.
 
     As the candidate running hardest on the platform of experience, Clinton
 was seen by a wide margin (61 percent to 22 percent) as the candidate
 possessing that quality. Obama, meanwhile, retained his ironclad aura as an
 agent of change: he holds an 8-point margin (47 percent to 39 percent) over
 Clinton as the candidate that Democratic voters believe is most able to
 "bring about the changes this country needs." On the issue of preparedness
 for office, more Democratic voters believe Clinton's plan for mending the
 nation is better than Obama's (45 percent to 37 percent). But by a 41-point
 margin the same voters laud Obama as the candidate who can inspire the
 country. Worse for Clinton, 58 percent of Democrats seemed to value aura
 over argument when they said that the ability to inspire people is more
 important than having a winning plan of action. And the Illinois senator is
 seen by most Democrats as the candidate who can bring people together (53
 percent to 32 percent for Clinton).
 
     Arizona Sen. John McCain, who clinched the Republican presidential
 nomination Tuesday, may have already benefited from the Democratic
 infighting. Many Democrats in the Newsweek Poll said that they would back
 McCain if their favorite candidate were not the nominee. Perhaps as a
 result, each candidate remains in a statistical tie with the former POW in
 a mock November match up. In a test election there Obama beat McCain 46
 percent to 45 percent, and Clinton triumphed 48 percent to 46 percent.
 
     McCain faces obstacles on several fronts. He would be the oldest person
 to start a first term as president, and three in 10 survey respondents
 think he is too old for the job. McCain is also in danger of overplaying
 the endorsement he received this week from President George W. Bush.
 Campaigning side by side with the unpopular president could hurt McCain's
 chances; the president's approval rating hovers around 30 percent. Even
 among Republicans, almost a third (32 percent) of survey respondents said
 they disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Finally, McCain's support of the
 Iraq War may backfire. Although a slightly greater number of voters believe
 that things in Iraq are getting better (29 percent) rather than worse (25
 percent) that could swing quickly if U.S. casualties flare.
 
     The rest of the poll results were mixed. They suggested that Clinton's
 ominous "3 a.m. phone call" ad benefited her campaign. Almost half (45
 percent) of Democrats said they would trust Clinton to answer the red phone
 in the wee hours, while only a third felt that way about Obama. Similarly,
 on the issue of national security, almost half (47 percent) of the
 Democratic base said that they trust Clinton to protect the country; only a
 third feel the same about Obama.
 
     But it's not clear how much these sentiments will matter at the ballot
 box: just 4 percent of Democrats overall, and 4 percent of Clinton's
 supporters, name terrorism as their top issue. When all voters were asked
 which of the three candidates they would most trust to take a 3 a.m. call,
 the largest number pointed to McCain (45 percent), followed by Clinton (27
 percent) and Obama (18 percent). Almost a fifth of Clinton's supporters say
 that they would trust McCain more to take the call.
 
     Looking ahead, 58 percent of Democratic voters, and 44 percent of
 Clinton backers, believe she will "go negative" if she wins her party's
 nomination. In contrast, only 24 percent of Obama supporters expect him to
 take the low road- which suggests that his backers could penalize him for
 playing dirty.
 
     The poll also shows that Clinton remains a divisive figure: a full 40
 percent of registered voters hold an unfavorable opinion of her, compared
 with 35 percent for McCain and only 28 percent for Obama. On Clinton's
 contention that the media is harder on her, 42 percent of Democrats agree.
 Even among Obama supporters, a full third believe their candidate has had
 an easier time with journalists.
 
     While Clinton has regained support among national Democrats, Obama
 maintains the lead among pledged delegates to the party's convention, with
 1,366 versus Clinton's 1,227, according to the tally by NBC News. Both fall
 short of the 2,025 delegates required to secure the nomination. But the
 national sentiment in the latest Newsweek Poll could reflect shifting
 attitudes of voters in upcoming primaries, including the next big prize,
 Pennsylvania.
 
     Should neither Clinton nor Obama secure enough delegates to win the
 nomination (a scenario that looks increasingly likely), 43 percent of
 Democrats said they would prefer that the candidate trailing in the
 delegate count concede the nomination, while 42 percent think super
 delegates should choose the nominee. Should the ball end up in the
 superdelegates' court, most respondents (42 percent) think they should
 choose the best-qualified nominee in their judgment, while 38 percent
 believe they should choose the person with the popular vote lead.
 
 
Story: http://www.newsweek.com/id/119953 Poll Numbers: http://www.newsweek.com/id/119957 Newsweek Poll The Democratic Presidential Race Princeton Survey Research Associates International Final Topline Results (3/7/08) N = 1,215 registered voters screened from 1,364 adults, 18+ Margin of error: plus or minus 3.5 Interviewing dates: 3/5-6/08 N = 573 Registered Democrats and Democratic leaners (MOE: plus or minus 5) Notes: Data are weighted so that sample demographics match Census Current Population Survey parameters for gender, age, education, race, region, and population density. Results based on smaller subgroups are subject to larger margins of sampling error. Sample size and margins of error for these subgroups are included in a separate methodology statement. An asterisk (*) indicates a value less than 1%. READ INTRO TO Q1ab-Q2ab TO ALL RVs: Now I'm going to describe some different choices of candidates voters might have in this year's presidential election. As I read each one, please tell me how you would vote if the election were being held TODAY.
Questions 1a/b and 2a/b rotated. 1a/b. Suppose you HAD TO CHOOSE between Barack Obama, the Democrat, and John McCain, the Republican. (Choices rotated) Who would you be more likely to vote for? [IF OTHER/UNDECIDED, RESPONDENTS WERE ASKED] As of TODAY, do you LEAN more toward Obama, the Democrat; or McCain, the Republican? BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS Total Obama Total McCain Undec./Other Current Total 46 45 9 =100 Rep/Lean Rep 10 86 4 =100 Dem/Lean Dem 77 14 9 =100 Clinton supporters 61 25 14 =100 Obama supporters 96 2 2 =100 Trends 6/20-21/07 51 41 8 =100 5/2-3/07 52 39 9 =100 2/28-3/1/07 45 43 12 =100 1/24-25/07 48 42 10 =100 1/17-18/07 46 44 10 =100 12/6-7/06 43 45 12 =100 2a/b. Suppose you HAD TO CHOOSE between Hillary Clinton, the Democrat; and John McCain, the Republican. (Choices rotated) Who would you be more likely to vote for? [IF OTHER/UNDECIDED, RESPONDENTS WERE ASKED] As of TODAY, do you LEAN more toward Clinton, the Democrat; or McCain, the Republican? BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS Total Total Clinton McCain Undec./Other Current Total 48 46 6 =100 Rep/Lean Rep 11 86 3 =100 Dem/Lean Dem 80 14 6 =100 Clinton supporters 94 6 * =100 Obama supporters 71 20 9 =100 Trends 6/20-21/07 50 45 5 =100 5/2-3/07 50 44 6 =100 2/28-3/1/07 47 46 7 =100 1/24-25/07 50 44 6 =100 1/17-18/07 48 47 5 =100 12/6-7/06 50 43 7 =100 Questions D2/D2a asked here (results posted at end of document). 3. Who would you MOST like to see nominated as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate this year ... . Hillary Clinton (or) Barack Obama? (Choices Rotated) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Obama Clinton Undec/Other Current Total 45 44 11 =100 Democrat 44 44 12 =100 Independent/Other 46 42 12 =100 Male 50 40 10 =100 Female 41 46 13 =100 White 35 53 12 =100 Black 80 10 10 =100 18-39 60 35 5 =100 40-59 38 47 15 =100 60+ 33 51 16 =100 College grad. 50 41 9 =100 Some college 50 38 12 =100 No college 38 48 14 =100 Red states 37 50 13 =100 Blue states 51 39 10 =100 Trend (Total) 2/6-7/08 42 41 17 =100 4. Do you support ... (INSERT CHOICE FROM Q3) STRONGLY or only moderately? BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Strength of Support Obama Clinton Strong 70 68 Not Strong 30 32 100 100 5. Which ONE of the following is the MOST important reason that you support ... (INSERT CHOICE FROM Q3)? (READ AND RANDOMIZE 1-6) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS WHO CHOSE CLINTON OR OBAMA Total Clinton Obama 2/6-7/08 30 11 49 Can bring about needed change 30 21 41 1 Experience 15 14 13 15 Cares about people like you 13 14 15 13 Leadership ability 18 11 11 12 Positions on issues 14 5 3 7 Can win in November 6 2 3 1 Other/None of these (VOL.) 3 3 3 2 Don't know 1 100 100 100 100 6. In deciding which Democratic presidential candidate to support this year, which ONE of the following issues is most important to you...(READ AND ROTATE 1-5) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 2/6-7/08 47 50 44 The economy and jobs 46 24 27 19 Health care 21 16 13 21 Iraq 17 6 3 10 The environment and global warming 8 4 4 4 Terrorism and national security 5 1 1 0 Other/None of these (VOL.) 1 2 2 2 Don't know 2 100 100 100 100 7. We'd like your overall opinion of some people in politics today. As I read each name, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of this person -- or if you had never heard of them before this interview. What about ... (INSERT-READ AND RANDOMIZE) (Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him/her?) BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS Never Can't Favorable Unfavorable heard of rate/DK a. Hillary Clinton Current Total 56 40 * 4 =100 Rep/Lean Rep 23 73 0 4 =100 Dem/Lean Dem 83 14 * 3 =100 Clinton supporters 99 1 * * =100 Obama supporters 72 26 0 2 =100 Trends (Total RVs) 7/2-3/07 55 38 1 6 =100 5/11-12/06 51 45 1 3 =100 b. Barack Obama Current Total 61 28 1 10 =100 Rep/Lean Rep 40 47 1 12 =100 Dem/Lean Dem 79 14 1 6 =100 Clinton supporters 63 28 1 8 =100 Obama supporters 98 1 0 1 =100 Trends (Total RVs) 7/2-3/07 56 19 11 14 =100 5/11-12/06 34 10 46 10 =100 c. John McCain Current Total 55 35 1 9 =100 d. George W. Bush Current Total 33 61 1 5 =100 8. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? Approve Disapprove DK Current Total 30 61 9 =100 Trends (1) 2/6-7/08 30 60 10 =100 8/1-2/07 29 63 8 =100 7/11-12/07 29 64 7 =100 7/2-3/07 26 65 9 =100 6/18-19/07 26 65 9 =100 5/2-3/07 28 64 8 =100 3/28-29/07 33 60 7 =100 3/14-15/07 30 60 10 =100 2/28-3/1/07 31 61 8 =100 1/24-25/07 30 64 6 =100 1/17-18/07 31 62 7 =100 12/6-7/06 32 60 8 =100 11/9-10/06 31 63 6 =100 11/2-3/06 35 56 9 =100 10/26-27/06 37 53 10 =100 10/19-20/06 35 57 8 =100 10/5-6/06 33 59 8 =100 8/24-25/06 36 56 8 =100 8/10-11/06 38 55 7 =100 5/11-12/06 35 59 6 =100 3/16-17/06 36 58 6 =100 11/10-11/05 36 58 6 =100 9/29-30/05 40 53 7 =100 9/8-9/05 38 55 7 =100 8/2-4/05 42 51 7 =100 3/17-18/05 45 48 7 =100 2/3-4/05 50 42 8 =100 12/2-3/04 49 44 7 =100 10/27-29/04 46 47 7 =100 10/14-15/04 47 46 7 =100 9/30-10/2/04 46 48 6 =100 9/9-10/04 48 44 8 =100 9/2-3/04 52 41 7 =100 7/29-30/04 45 49 6 =100 7/8-9/04 48 46 6 =100 5/13-14/04 42 52 6 =100 4/8-9/04 49 45 6 =100 3/18-19/04 48 44 8 =100 2/5-6/04 48 45 7 =100 1/22-23/04 50 44 6 =100 1/8-9/04 54 41 5 =100 12/18-19/03 54 38 8 =100 11/6-7/03 52 40 8 =100 8/21-22/03 53 36 11 =100 5/29-30/03 61 28 11 =100 (1) Full trendline from 1/04 to present; earlier trends selected. Approval figures for 8/25-9/5/01 from Pew Research Center. 9. On the subject of Iraq ... All in all, do you think the situation in Iraq is getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same? BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS Current 10/31-11/1/07 8/1-2/07(2) 29 Getting better 26 16 25 Getting worse 29 41 43 About the same 42 38 3 Don't know 3 5 100 100 100 (2) 8/1-2/07 trend results based on total adults. 10. Now I have a few more questions about the Democratic presidential candidates. Regardless of which candidate you may support, please tell me if you think each of the following statements BEST describes Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. (First,) What about ... (READ AND RANDOMIZE) (Does this statement best describe Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Both Clinton Obama equally Neither DK a. Can bring about the changes this country needs Current Total 39 47 8 3 3 =100 Trend 2/6-7/08 38 44 11 2 5 =100 b. Has the right experience for the job of president Current Total 61 22 9 5 3 =100 Trend 2/6-7/08 62 21 9 4 4 =100 c. Can bring the country together Current Total 32 53 9 3 3 =100 Trend 2/6-7/08 34 50 8 3 5 =100 d. Inspires and excites people Current Total 23 64 10 1 2 =100 Trend 2/6-7/08 25 63 8 2 2 =100 e. Is most likely to defeat John McCain in November (3) Current Total 38 44 9 2 7 =100 Trend 2/6-7/08 43 38 8 1 10 =100 f. Has the better plan for solving our country's problems Current Total 45 37 8 3 7 =100 (3) Trend wording read, "Is most likely to win in November." 11. Which ONE of the following do you think is the more important quality for the next president to have ... ? (READ AND ROTATE 1-2) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 58 41 74 Ability to inspire and bring people together to solve the country's problems (or) 39 56 24 Having a specific plan for solving our country's problems (or) 3 3 2 Don't know 100 100 100 12. Regardless of which candidate you may support, please tell me if you would trust Hillary Clinton more or Barack Obama more to do each of the following ... (First,) Which would you trust more ... (READ AND RANDOMIZE) (Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama)? BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS (Vol.) (Vol.) Clinton Obama Both Neither DK a. To improve the economy and job situation Current Total 42 43 9 2 4 =100 b. To deal with the situation in Iraq Current Total 45 40 9 2 4 =100 c. To protect the country from terrorism Current Total 47 33 13 3 4 =100 d. To make health care more affordable and accessible Current Total 51 35 8 3 3 =100 e. To answer an urgent 3AM phone call in the White House about a national security crisis Current Total 45 33 15 3 4 =100 13. Putting aside the issue of which would be the presidential and vice presidential candidate, in general, would you personally like to see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton run together on the national Democratic ticket this fall, or not? BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 69 72 67 Yes, would 27 24 30 No, would not 4 4 3 Don't know 100 100 100 14. If nominated, which Democratic presidential candidate - Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama - do you think would be more likely to engage in mudslinging and negative campaigning in the fall campaign against Republican John McCain? BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 58 44 74 Hillary Clinton 18 24 17 Barack Obama 9 12 2 Both equally (VOL.) 5 7 3 Neither (VOL.) 10 13 4 Don't know 100 100 100 15. Suppose that after all the votes in the Democratic primaries and caucuses have been counted, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination. Which of the following would you most prefer ... (READ AND ROTATE OPTIONS 1-2) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 43 36 51 That the candidate trailing in delegates drop out of the race and concede the nomination to their opponent (or) 42 50 39 That the Democratic elected officials and party leaders who are the "super delegates" decide which candidate becomes the party's nominee (or) 15 14 10 Don't know 100 100 100 16. Suppose that, in the end, the Democratic super delegates decide whether Clinton or Obama is the party's presidential nominee. Which the following ways would you MOST like to see them choose between the candidates? Should the super delegates ... (READ) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 38 34 41 Choose the candidate who won the biggest share of the POPULAR VOTE in primaries and caucuses across the country, or 14 6 23 Choose the candidate who won the most DELEGATES in the primaries and caucuses, or 42 55 31 Choose the candidate who is BEST QUALIFIED to be the nominee in their judgment? 6 5 5 Don't know 100 100 100 17. What if Barack Obama wins the most popular vote and the most delegates from the primaries and caucuses but Hillary Clinton is selected as the nominee by the super delegates? Do you think the Democratic Party leadership would be seen as racially biased in denying the nomination to an African-American candidate, or don't you think it would be seen this way? BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama Whites Blacks 30 25 37 26 47 Yes, would be seen as racially biased 59 65 53 64 42 No, would not 11 10 10 10 11 Don't know 100 100 100 100 100 18. Now thinking about the way the news media has covered the Democratic presidential race this year, in general, do you think media coverage has been ... (READ) BASED ON REGISTERED DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS Total Clinton Obama 42 56 33 More critical of Hillary Clinton, 10 6 16 More critical of Barack Obama, or 43 34 46 Has NOT been more critical of one candidate than another? 5 4 5 Don't know 100 100 100 19. Which one of the following would you trust most to answer an urgent 3AM phone call in the White House about a national security crisis? (READ AND RANDOMIZE) Based on Registered Voters Clinton Rep/ Dem/ Total Obama Ln Rep Ln Dem 45 18 13 81 17 John McCain 27 68 20 9 42 Hillary Clinton 18 4 62 4 31 Barack Obama 10 10 5 6 10 Don't know 100 100 100 100 100 20. At age 71, do you think John McCain is too old to serve effectively as president, or not? Based on Registered Voters Current 1/25-26/96(4) 30 37 Yes, too old 67 60 No, not too old 3 3 Don't know 100 100 D2. Regardless of how you might have voted in recent elections, in politics TODAY, do you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat, or Independent? D2a. As of TODAY do you LEAN more toward the Republican Party or the Democratic Party? (4) Trend asked about Bob Dole. BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS Dem/ Total Ln Dem 27 0 Republican 38 75 Democrat 32 22 Independent 2 2 No party/Not interested in politics (VOL.) * * Other party (VOL.) 1 1 Don't know 100 100 40 Total Republican/Lean Republican 50 Total Democrat/Lean Democratic END OF INTERVIEW. THANK RESPONDENT: That completes the interview. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

SOURCE Newsweek

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