by David paul Kuhn, Politico
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is surging in Pennsylvania, according to several new polls. In one survey, released by Public Policy Polling this morning, Obama is now leading New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the first time, 45 percent to 43 percent. That represents a closing of a 26-percentage-point Clinton advantage from only two and a half weeks ago.
The Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary is scheduled for April 22.
Obama’s gains are largely due to a narrowing of the gap with white voters—29-percentage points according to PPP—but he continues to trail Clinton 49 to 38 percent among whites. In mid-March, according to PPP, Clinton led 63 percent to 23 percent among whites. That mid-March poll occurred prior to Obama’s race speech, at the height of the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The PPP poll of 1224 likely Democratic primary voters between March 31 and April 1, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent, found that Obama has improved by double digits with both white women and white men. Today, PPP has Clinton leading 56 percent to 31 percent with white women. Obama leads 44 percent to 43 percent with white men.
Obama also improved with black voters, long his base. He now captures the support of three in four African Americans in the state.
A Rasmussen Reports poll, released April 1, had Clinton leading Obama by five points, 47 percent to 42 percent. Clinton had a 13-point lead two weeks earlier, according to Rasmussen. Another poll released the same day by SurveyUSA shows Obama making more modest gains. That survey found that Clinton was still ahead by 12 points, though Obama had narrowed her lead by 7 points in the past three weeks.
Taken together, the polls suggest that Pennsylvania, a state that once looked to be a lock for Clinton, has become considerably more competitive. His surge is especially notable considering Pennsylvania’s demographics and its closed primary, two factors thought to be key advantages for Clinton.