A recent CBS News poll taken after Senator Obama’s dramatic speech on US racial matters gives a somewhat different picture of US voters from other recent opinion polls:
Sixty-nine percent of voters who have heard or read about Obama’s speech say he did a good job addressing the issue of race relations, and 63 percent of voters following the events say they agree with Obama’s views on race relations. Seventy-one percent say he did a good job explaining his relationship with Wright.
Only four percent admitted to not hearing anything about these issues, and a significant majority of those who heard it seem to have received it favorably. Only a minority of all voters had a negative view. This seems better news than the national poll that I discussed yesterday.
Yet there was some decline in support for Senator Obama in this poll too:
When registered voters were asked if Obama would unite the country, however, 52 percent said yes – down from 67 percent last month. . . . . Seventy percent say the events will make no difference in their vote. Among those who said it would, 14 percent said it makes them more likely to vote for Obama while an equal number said it makes them less likely to support him.
The latter findings were roughly the same for independents. Thus, in this poll something like one seventh of the voters were negatively affected by the racially slanted news about Dr. Wright and/or the news about Senator Obama’s speech. (Apparently only a minority of voters have heard the whole Obama speech.)
One question asked by CBS poll does not appear in other polls I have seen. This finding is probably the most important for the Obama campaign:
Among voters who supported Obama over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain before the speech, 23 percent say they are now more likely to support the Illinois senator. Just six percent are less likely to support him, while 69 percent say it makes no difference.
Judging from responses to this question, only 6 percent of voters who were already supporting Obama admitted to being less likely to support him in the future. This is small but significant for a November election that is normally close. It appears from this national survey that, the more time passes after these first two major racialized attacks on Senator Obama, the less voters hold these early smear-type attacks against him. Stay tuned, sadly, more racialized attacks are likely coming.
Some good news on the polling front: in North Carolina, a state in which Obama was favored to win, a PPP poll was released yesterday showing Obama with a commanding 55-34 lead, including a 47-40 deficit among whites (a substantial improvement from 56-30 one week earlier). Take a look at David Brook’s column in the NYT about this race and how for now (at least for the nomination) Obama has gotten beyond the Dr. Wright story and after some rough poll numbers appears to be regaining his lead. This includes a narrow lead in a recent national poll. As much as these polls are worth, Obama seems to have weathered the storm for now.