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Has Obama Been Hurt by Jeremiah Wright and “Bitter-gate”? Not really.

- May 1, 2008

“Not really” is not what you’d expect to hear, if you are reading about:

* the “problem” that Wright poses (according to this New York Times piece)
* the “threat to Obama’s ability to show that he could unify the Democratic Party” (again, the New York Times)
* the “damage to his presidential candidacy” (the Washington Post)
* the “troubling trends” (this post at the Washington Post’s Behind the Numbers blog)
* the “diminished aura of inevitability” inferred from this CBS/New York Times poll

Let’s leave aside the easiest rebuttals — namely that Behind the Numbers is cherry-picking recent polls and relying on the always-dubious “does X make you more or less favorable” question (they, of all people, should know better), and that the CBS/NYT poll’s real main finding is that Obama’s lead over Hillary has actually grown since the last CBS/NYT poll.

Instead, let’s take a more systematic look at the available data. First is this bravura graph from Seth Masket over at Enik Rising, comparing Obama’s performance in the OH and PA primaries among various demographic groups:


Even among those groups who should perhaps be most bitter over being called “bitter” — weekly church-attenders, union members, white Catholics — Obama loses only a few percentage points in PA relative to OH. Among every other group, he does better.

More importantly, look at the two graphs below: the national Obama-Clinton split and the Obama-McCain trial heat (both courtesy of pollster.com).



Obama’s lead over Clinton has actually gotten slightly larger in the last several weeks. Obama has also improved viz. McCain.

I assume a few other voices are shouting in the wilderness on this issue (Seth writes that Bill Schneider of CNN noted the lack of movement in the polls). But clearly the Gang of 500 hasn’t gotten the message. Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a real drop in the polls for Obama; if so, all the above quotes from our leading journalistic lights would be justified. But until then, the “problem” is in their eyes only.

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