How Hard Did the Wright Controversy Actually Hit Obama?
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 06:59:30 PM EDT
This is rather interesting. The common wisdom is (or at least was a week or two ago) that Barack Obama may have taken a serious long-term hit as a result of the controversy surrounding comments made in the past by his former preacher, Jeremiah Wright. On the basis of such a theory, one might have assumed that fewer Americans would indicate that they believe Obama shares their values. However a new poll from CBS News and The New York Times indicates that the opposite is the case. Here's Ben Smith:
This, from a CBS/NYT poll of 1368 registered voters (.pdf) out this evening, cuts across quite a bit of conventional wisdom, and seems to suggest that attacks which really centered on Obama's values and patriotism haven't, yet, cut.Do you think [candidate] shares the values most Americans try to live by, or doesn't (s)he?
Their writeup:The biggest gap between Obama and Clinton on this comes from Republicans. Most Republicans, 52%, think Obama shares America's values but far fewer, only 27%, think Clinton does. Independents and Democrats think they both do, but Obama fares better here, too, by 13 points. Republicans and Independents both think McCain shares America's values, and half of Democrats do.
Perhaps the Wright controversy has not yet seeped into the way Americans think of Obama or his values. However, this doesn't seem particularly likely, especially given the amount of coverage devoted to both Wright's comments and Obama's response, as well as the weeks of time Americans have had to ruminate on the coverage.
No, it seems that the American public has digested the Wright controversy and still come to the conclusion that Obama shares their values, despite the strident words used by some to excoriate him publicly, for the words of his preacher and for his own words in response. In short, the evidence to this point strongly suggest that Obama successfully weathered the storm that was the Wright controversy.
I think it's still well to early to assume that the story is completely behind him, that he handled it well enough last month that he will not be forced to handle it again in the future. Nevertheless, Obama did show an ability to take a punch -- and a hard one, at that -- yet stay on his feet and endure in his purpose. And if that's not the kind of quality one would like to see in the Democratic nominee, I'm not sure what would be.