No Apparent "Wright Effect" on Obama in New NBC/WSJ Poll

The conventional wisdom held that the recent controversy surrounding Jeremiah Wright would help drag one Democratic presidential hopeful down, at least a little while helping push the other up. As it turns out, according to a new poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal, that’s exactly what happened — though the candidate that was supposed to go down went up.
The racially charged debate over Barack Obama’s relationship with his longtime pastor hasn’t much changed his close contest against Hillary Clinton, or hurt him against Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC polls with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, called the latest poll a “myth-buster” that showed the pastor controversy is “not the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign.”
But both Democrats, and especially New York’s Sen. Clinton, are showing wounds from their prolonged and increasingly bitter nomination contest, which could weaken the ultimate nominee for the general-election showdown against Sen. McCain of Arizona. Even among women, who are the base of Sen. Clinton’s support, she now is viewed negatively by more voters than positively for the first time in a Journal/NBC poll.

Indeed, the poll results aren’t encouraging for the Clinton camp. While she had a four-point lead over Obama among Dems two weeks ago, she and Obama are now tied at 45%. In hypothetical general-election match-ups, Obama now leads McCain by two (44% to 42%), while McCain leads Clinton by two (46% to 44%). The Wright controversy was supposed to drive white Dems to Clinton in larger numbers, but her margin actually shrank in recent weeks, from 12 points to eight.

But it’s the personal impressions of Clinton that should be of the greatest concern. It appears, based on the data, that the tone of the nominating fight is taking its toll.

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