NEW YORK — Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has opened up a gaping 14-point lead over Democratic rival Senator Hillary Clinton in a national presidential preference telephone survey conducted by Zogby International for Reuters news service.
And while Obama leads Republican Senator John McCain in a national general election match-up, McCain, the likely GOP presidential nominee from Arizona, would handily defeat Clinton in a head-to-head contest, the poll shows.
In the national Democratic primary race, Obama not only wins big among younger voters, but has also made significant inroads and now leads Clinton among those likely voters ages 50 to 64 — the heart of the Baby Boomers — by a stunning 57% to 29% margin. This is a group of which Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are members. Clinton had shown strength in that age demographic group in earlier surveys.
Among Democrats overall, Obama led Clinton by 52% to 38%.
Obama, the first African-American ever to enjoy a serious opportunity to capture a major party nomination and the White House, also leads Clinton, the first woman with the same opportunities, among women. Having erased Clinton’s advantage among female voters, the two are deadlocked at 44%. Among men, Obama leads by a 61% to 32% margin.
Obama’s advantage spans most of the ideological spectrum — he leads by 23 points among progressives at the far left end of the political scale; by 16 points among mainline liberals; and by eight points among moderates. Only among the small percentage of likely Democratic voters who consider themselves conservatives does Clinton hold a lead over Obama —leading him by 14 points.
In the Republican primary race, the latest Reuters/Zogby poll shows that McCain enjoys a big 47% to 32% lead over rival Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. But despite a big lead in the delegate race and many endorsements from top-drawer GOP leaders, a significant chunk of conservatives do not yet appear ready to jump on to the McCain bandwagon. Among mainline conservatives, McCain leads Huckabee, 48% to 33%. Another 16% of conservatives said they either favored another candidate or were uncertain about whom to support, while Congressman Ron Paul won 3% backing from conservatives.
Among those who described themselves as “very conservative,” Huckabee leads McCain by a 51% to 29% margin. About 17% of the sample consisted of very conservative likely voters, compared to 50% who considered themselves mainline conservatives. McCain leads by a wide margin among moderate Republicans.
In a general election matchupv between McCain and Obama, McCain scored 40% to Obama’s 47%.
Obama’s advantage over McCain in a prospective general election contest stems from his strong support among voters under age 65, among women and independents. Among African Americans, Obama leads McCain 80% to 3% with 18% undecided or favoring someone else, but McCain leads among white voters by a 47% to 41% margin, with 12% undecided or favoring someone else.
In a prospective McCain/Clinton match-up, McCain wins easily, 50% to 38%. His lead is based upon a 59% to 32% advantage among men, compared to Clinton’s narrow 44% to 41% edge among women. While McCain trails Obama among every age group under 65, he leads Clinton in all age groups — his biggest advantage coming among those ages 30-49, where he enjoys a 53% to 35% edge.
Among African Americans, Clinton wins 58% support against McCain, who wins 18% backing. Among whites, McCain leads Clinton by a 57% to 32% edge.
Pollster John Zogby observed: “There are lots of significant numbers here, but what really caught my eye was Obama’s gains among those age 50 to 64, a group which captures most of the Baby Boomers. Did Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement and campaigning for Obama effectively remind Democratic Boomers of her father?
“Also, the differential among African Americans is striking. By an 80% to 3% margin, they support Obama over McCain. But, in a Clinton-McCain contest, just 58% of African Americans say they will support Clinton, compared to 18% who support McCain, which makes me wonder: could there be disaffected African Americans who support Obama but who will be reluctant to support Clinton in a general election?”
The Reuters/Zogby telephone survey was conducted Feb. 13-16, 2008, and included 1,105 likely voters nationwide, and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points. The subsample of Democratic likely voters included 494 respondents and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. The subsample of Republican likely voters included 434 respondents and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.8 percentage points.