A new Franklin & Marshall College Poll (read it here) is a sign of just how damaging the race debate has been to Barack Obama:
The March 2008 Franklin and Marshall College Poll suggests that Hillary Clinton has regained the solid advantage she held over Barack Obama prior to February. Clinton leads Obama by 16 points among likely Democratic primary voters, 51% to 35%. Her lead among likely Democratic primary voters has doubled since the February 2008 poll, conducted February 13-18, when her advantage was seven points, 44% to 37% (see Figure 1). Mrs. Clinton leads among voters in virtually every demographic group, with the exceptions being non-whites and voters in Philadelphia (see Tables A-1 and A-2). The February survey showed the potential for a considerable amount of change in the race, but the March survey shows a less volatile environment. Fewer than one in seven (13%) likely voters is currently undecided, and most (85%) are “certain” about their vote choice, up from 72 percent in February.
Hillary Clinton’s advantages over Barack Obama reside not only in favorable demographics but also in her issue positions. Three issues, the economy, the Iraq War, and healthcare, are the primary issues driving voter preference. Clinton holds a sizable lead among voters who say the economy (53% to 25%) and healthcare (62% to 19%) are the most important issues in their presidential preference. Obama holds a slight advantage among those who say the Iraq War (42% to 35%) is their top concern.
Prior to March, Mr. Obama had seen a steady increase in his favorable ratings among the state’s Democrats. The March survey shows that fewer Democrats have a favorable opinion of him and that more Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of him compared to February (see Figure 2). Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings have changed little since the last survey.