Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Starts to Attract Clinton Voters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Starts to Attract Clinton Voters

Article excerpt

At first glance, the split results in Oregon and Kentucky Tuesday seemed further evidence of the primary season's chief demographic fault line. Blacks once again backed Barack Obama just as assuredly as low-income whites and older women turned out for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But the recent focus on lopsided individual races in places like West Virginia (Clinton) and North Carolina (Obama) has obscured what polls now show is a much more fluid national electorate.

Senator Clinton's support among key parts of her base A-- women, whites, Easterners, Hispanics, adults with no college education - dropped below 50 percent in mid-May, according to a Gallup study released this week. Senator Obama, meanwhile, has so expanded his support that he logged a record 16-point lead over Clinton in polling last weekend among Democratic and left-leaning voters, according to Gallup.

If that lead holds, it would suggest that a growing number of Clinton supporters no longer see her as a viable candidate and are coalescing around Obama as the likely Democratic nominee. The findings indicate that Democrats may have an easier time uniting behind Obama than some exit polls suggest.

"It's possible we're transitioning from the nomination phase to the general election phase," says Jeffrey Jones, managing editor of the Gallup Poll. "Instead of necessarily evaluating Obama against Clinton, he's being evaluated against McCain and therefore he may be more appealing to some Democratic groups that have been Clinton supporters."

The only key group where support for Clinton still topped 51 percent - if by a hair - were women ages 50 and older. That figure remained largely unchanged in May even while Clinton's support among men ages 18 to 49 dropped nearly 10 points.

The racial and economic rifts highlighted by the news media after a primary are heat-of-the-moment snapshots derived from exit polls. …

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