McCain On Top, Dem Race Close In National, Super Tuesday Polls

Posted February 3, 2008 at 4:32pm

This latest wrap-up of polls from states that vote on Super Tuesday show close Democratic contests in California, Missouri, and Arizona and possibly even in Hillary Clinton’s neighboring state, New Jersey. These horse races reflect the three national polls we reported earlier today – Gallup, Pew Research and Washington Post/ABC News.
The state where John McCain faces the biggest challenge is Georgia.

For Democratic voters, the economy is consistently the biggest issue with health care or Iraq second. The economy is frequently the big issue on the Republican side as well, but there are some states where national security and terrorism is the biggest concern, and immigration always ranks higher on the Republican side than with the Democrats.

Heard enough about “change” versus “experience?” Sorry, although you can take some consolation that in some states, Democratic voters put the most freight on whether the candidate “cares about the issues I care about,” and Clinton wins on this one. The old news is that Obama leads her among voters wanting change, and she leads Obama among voters prizing experience.

Missouri Republicans had one distinction: unlike other states where the economy or national security was the top issue, they put moral and family issues at number one.

**California:** Three polls tell three different stories. The prestigious Field Poll, a specialist on the state, says its Jan. 25 to Feb. 1 survey showed a tightening Democratic race with Clinton leading Obama 36 percent to 34 percent, well within the 4.5 percent margin of error. A McClatchy/MSNBC poll conducted Jan.30-Feb.1 shows Clinton leading Obama in this delegate-rich state by 45 percent to 36 percent, with a 5 point margin of error. Fifteen percent of voters said they might yet change their minds. Voters who cared most about “change” favored Obama 65 percent to 22 percent while those who valued experience most favored Clinton 92 percent to 2 percent. The economy was far ahead of all other issues concerning voters. Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby has Obama leading Clinton 45 percent to 41 percent with a 2.9 percent margin of error in a Jan. 31-Feb.2 poll.

On the Republican side, Field says McCain now leads Romney 32 percent to 24 percent with Huckabee at 13 percent. Two weeks ago, McCain’s lead in the Field poll was 4 percent. McClatchy/MSNBC says McCain leads Romney 40 percent to 31 percent with Huckabee at 13 percent. A much higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats – 26 percent – said they might yet change their minds. As far as the issues most important to Republican voters, 25 percent cited the economy, 24 percent said national security or terrorism and 17 percent chose immigration.

**New Jersey:** Two conflicting polls on the Democratic race. Clinton leads Obama in this neighbor to her home state by 46 percent to 39 percent in this McClatchy/MSNBC poll conducted Jan. 30-Feb.1 Margin of error is 5 percent. Obama had a 3-to-1 margin over Clinton on voters most interested in change, while Clinton had an 86 percent to 3 percent lead on the experience factor (29 percent of the Democrats placed most importance on change, while 15 percent said experience was the key criterion). Democrats cited the economy as the top issue with 43 percent and Iraq second at 20 percent. But Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby says its Jan.31-Feb. 2 poll shows Clinton at 43 percent to 42 percent for Obama, with a 3.4 percent margin of error and 14 percent undecided.

On the GOP side, McCain has a 46 percent to 31 percent lead over Romney, with Huckabee at 5 percent, according to McClatchy/MSNBC. On issues, the economy was Number One at 30 percent with national security and terrorism at 20 percent. Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby says Romney is ahead of McCain 37 percent to 34 percent with Huckabee at 12 percent. The margin of error is 2.9 percent. Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby’s poll has McCain besting Romney 54 percent to 23 percent with Huckabee at 6 percent.

**Missouri:** In this closely-watched competitive state, a MSNBC/MClatchy poll conducted Jan.30-Feb.1 has Clinton 47 percent to 41 percent over Obama with a 5 point margin of error. Clinton leads 52 percent to 35 percent among white voters while Obama out-polls her among black voters by 79 percent to 13 percent. Among Democrats who care most about change (22 percent of respondents), Obama leads 59 percent to 34 percent, while those who value experience the most (25 percent) favor Clinton by 84 percent to 8 percent. Democrats said the economy was the most important issue, at 46 percent, followed by health care at 23 percent and Iraq at 12 percent. A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll conducted Jan. 31-Feb.2 has Clinton statistically tied with Obama 44 percent to 43 percent with a 3.4 percent margin of error.

On the GOP side, McClatchy/MSNBC says McCain leads with 37 percent followed by Huckabee at 27 percent and Romney at 24 percent. A quarter of Republican voters said they might yet change their minds. Voters who said leadership was their most important consideration chose McCain, 59 percent compared to mid-teen standings by Romney and Huckabee. Huckabee led McCain and Romney by about 2-to-1 among voters who said “shares my values” was the most important. Missouri Republicans presented a different picture on the issues front than most other states: one-quarter said moral and family issues was the most important, followed by the economy at 23 percent, terrorism at 23 percent and taxes and government spending at 13 percent.

**Georgia:** Obama has taken a commanding 52 percent to 37 percent lead over Clinton in this Feb. 2 Rasmussen Reports survey. His lead had been 6 points before his victory in South Carolina. The economy was the top issue for 51 percent of Democratic voters while Iraq stood at 18 percent. A McClatchy/MSNBC poll conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 1 has Obama ahead but by a smaller 47 percent to 41 percent margin, with a 5 point margin of error. This poll pretty much follows the trend of other states polls in showing Clinton ahead among white voters; Obama way ahead among black voters; Obama leading bigtime among those who prize “change” (22 percent) and Clinton with a big lead among those who value experience most (17 percent). But on the criterion that was chosen by most Georgia Democrats (31 percent) – “cares about the issues I care about” – Clinton led Obama 54 percent to 31 percent. Democrats chose economy as the most important issue at 44 percent with health care second at 24 percent. The Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby Jan.31-Feb 2 poll has Obama beating Clinton 48 percent to 28 percent.

On the Republican side, this is one place where McCain is locked in a tight race. He leads with 31 percent to Romney’s 29 percent and Huckabee’s 28 percent, with a 4 point margin of error, according to Rasmussen. A significant chunk of likely voters say they might change their minds before stepping into the booth. The economy is the top issue for Republicans at 37 percent with immigration second at 18 percent. McClatchy/MSNBC also showed a tight race with McCain at 33 percent, Romney at 27 percent and Huckabee at 18 percent. A quarter of voters said they might still change their minds. The three were grouped together in the 20’s among Republicans who said they would make their choice based on shared values, while McCain led Romney on the experience measure, 39 percent to 30 percent with Huckabee way behind at 13 percent. Terrorism was the number one issue among GOP voters at 28 percent, followed by the economy at 25 percent.

**Arizona:** Two polls suggest a tight Democratic race. In a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted, Jan. 31, Clinton leads Obama 46 percent to 41 percent, with a 4 point margin of error. Nearly a third of Democratic voters said they might yet change their mind, but that was 3 days ago. The economy was the top issue for 37 percent of Democrats and Iraq was the most important for 26 percent, followed by health care at 14 percent and immigration at 12 percent. A McClatchy/MSNBC poll shows Clinton ahead of Obama 43 percent to 41 percent, well within the 5 point margin of error. Thirteen percent were undecided. Clinton is thought to have the edge in most places among Hispanic, but here Obama was outrunning her 53 percent to 37 percent. Twenty-eight percent of Democrats said they would make their choice based on which candidate cared about the same issues they cared about, and among those, Clinton bested Obama 48 percent to 29 percent. Of those who valued change the most (21 percent) Obama was the clear winner as usual, and of the 16 percent who valued experience the most, Clinton was far and away the choice.

On the GOP side, McCain, in his home state, led Romney by a 43 percent to 34 percent, although Romney bested McCain among self-described conservatives, according to Rasmussen. Huckabee polled 9 percent. The economy was the top issue for 30 percent of Republicans followed closely by immigration at 26 percent, a much higher total than among Democrats. The Washington Post on Saturday had a story about how immigration has divided the state GOP with the result being a high level of animosity for McCain about his immigration positions.

**New York:**The Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll conducted Jan.31-Feb.2 has McCain ahead of Romney 49 percent to 23 percent with Huckabee at 8 percent.

**Oklahoma:** A Tulsa World/Sooner Poll conducted Jan. 27-30 has Clinton far ahead of Obama, but John Edwards was still in the race for two days of the survey. Clinton had 41 percent to Obama’s 17 percent with Edwards in the mid-20s.

On the Republican side, McCain jumped into the lead with 40 percent compared to his 17 percent standing in this poll in December while Huckabee had 19 percent, down 10 points from December, and Romney 17 percent. Voters cited economy as the issue of most concern to them.

***To read about the top issues in this campaign region-by-region, check out CQ Politics’ summaries for the Northeast,
South and the Midwest, with more installments yet to come on the rest of the states.***