Donald Lambro

His low unfavorables could change as a result of the negative fallout from the hateful and inflammatory racial remarks made by his minister and longtime mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The unanswered issue that threatens to undo Obama's campaign is his statement that he never heard his pastor make such statements in the 20 years he attended services there. Anecdotal evidence tells a different story.

Hillary, dealing with her own issues of candor and honesty, took a shot at Obama last week, suggesting that she would have left the church if she had heard such remarks from the pulpit and that Obama had that choice, too.

But neither of these Democrats receives the favorability scores of Sen. John McCain who draws extraordinarily high ratings not only from GOP voters, but also from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. The Arizona senator's 67 percent favorable rating "is the highest of any of the three major candidates running for president, and ties for his highest in Gallup polling history," Gallup found. Remarkably, he gets a 52 percent favorable response from Democratic voters and leaners. Obama, however, gets a 39 percent favorable rating from Republicans and GOP leaners, while Hillary receives just 20 percent.

"McCain is also helped by the fact he receives an 87 percent favorable rating from Republicans, higher than the 80 percent and 79 percent that Clinton and Obama, respectively, currently received from Democrats," Gallup reported.

Meanwhile, the trench warfare between Hillary and Obama shows no signs of a letup, moving inexorably to a showdown at the convention in August where less than 300 unpledged superdelegates will decide who will be the nominee. Superdelegates who have e-mailed me are not tipping their hand, but some say they cannot see themselves voting against the candidate who has won the most delegates, votes and primary contests, and that points to Obama, who will come out of the final primaries with a lead on all three.

If it's McCain versus Obama, the likeability factor will be largely a moot issue, since both have favorables in the 60s. Then it will come down to a contest between an experienced, mostly, but not always, conservative Republican who appeals to independents, and a likeable, inexperienced down-the-line liberal Democrat with a tissue-paper thin resume for the awesome job he is seeking.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.