Voters Care About Bush, Not Wright
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 03:46:12 PM EDT
This subheader from the article writing up the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll says it all:
Bush -- not Wright or Bill Clinton -- is voters' main concern
Taking a look at the data from the poll (.pdf), 43 percent of respondents indicated that John McCain's close ties with George W. Bush and his policies was a major concern. Compare that with the 36 percent saying that Hillary Clinton's willingness to change positions on issues like NAFTA and driver's licenses (really, that's what they're polling?) and the 34 percent saying Barack Obama's "bitter" comments were a major concern. Only in fourth place, just 1 point ahead of Clinton's truthfulness and McCain's wavering on issues, was Obama's relationship with Wright, as well as Bill Ayers.
These numbers could be read in the other direction, no doubt. Indeed, about a third of voters are concerned about Obama's relationship with Wright (remember, this poll was in the field during the height of the coverage of Wright's comments late last week and early this week) and his poorly worded comments about rural America. Although it's not necessarily a problem if a candidate has trouble getting a particular third of the vote in the country -- there remain a whole lot more voters who do not think these negatives on Obama are major concerns than those that do -- reconciling with a significant portion of the American public is important for Obama, both in the short run and the longer run.
That all said, the real takeaway from these numbers is that, surprise surprise, George W. Bush -- and specifically John McCain's close ties with him -- remain a major problem, not only for McCain but also for the Republican Party as a whole. (Note, for instance, that the Democrats lead the Republicans by 15 points in the generic congressional ballot question.) And considering that Bush will very much continue to be on the national stage through the coming months -- in a way that Reverend Wright, and Obama's comments, and Clinton's perceived negatives -- will not.