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Wright Hasn’t Affected Most Voters’ View of Obama, But …

A New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted after Barack Obama’s denunciation on Tuesday of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, finds that a majority of Americans say the controversy has not affected their opinion of Obama, and approved of the way he has handled it. (Of course, what polls can’t take into account is what good Obama might have been able to do for himself message-wise if the Wright story hadn’t so dominated the news).

While saying the Wright furor had not affected their opinion, nearly half the voters, including a substantial number of Democrats, said he had repudiated Wright mainly for political reasons, mirroring a similar result in a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. The Times cautioned that because the survey, conducted May 1-3, had a “relatively small number of Democrats” and was nationally-based, it might not reflect widespread sentiments within the party or reflect what impact the Wright story has had in North Carolina and Indiana, which have primaries on Tuesday. Just to give you the actual size of the sample, it included 601 registered voters of whom 283 were Democratic primary voters and 148 were Republican primary voters. The margin of error is 6 percent for those who voted in Democratic primaries and 4 percent for all voters.

Three-quarters of all voters say the Wright issue has made no difference in their view of Obama, a result about the same among Democrats only. Sixty percent of all voters and 68 percent of Democratic primary voters approve the way he has handled the controversy. But on the question of whether Obama’s response was politically motivated or because he really disagreed with Wright, 47 percent of all voters said political versus 34 percent, and 43 percent of Democrats also said political, versus 40 percent.

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