From Chuck Todd and Domenico Montanaro
*** Myth buster: Pollster Peter Hart calls the NBC/WSJ poll a "myth buster" survey; it really breaks down a lot of the myths we've been hearing over the last week like: (1) that the Wright controversy was the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign -- certainly not the case, but there's no telling how much more Wright stuff comes out; (2) It was surprising how few people knew who Wright was (about half). People who followed story, though, were really disturbed (55%); (3) The premise that the Clinton campaign would turn out to be a stronger campaign or stronger among independents. (4) That the bar facing a black candidate would be higher than for a woman or a person over 70; There's a bar, but not higher; (5) That somehow this Wright story is over. If you look at it overall numbers, you can be misled. Among 29% of ALL voters, they need more answers from Obama. They have hesitations and uncertainties; they want to know, "Is he safe?" -- both in the sense of credentials/experience but also in terms of life story. The Wright controversy, the poll indicates, has taken a bit of the shine off Obama, brought him out of the stratosphere, notes pollster Bill McInturff. Clinton also faces a similar amount of uncertainties, but among a different group of people.
*** Not the one you'd think: But the poll didn't indicate the past couple of weeks' news hurt Obama the most; it was Clinton (sniper fire?). She's sporting the lowest personal ratings of the campaign. Her 37% positive rating is the lowest the NBC/WSJ poll has recorded since March 2001, two months after she was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. As for the damage this controversy did or didn't do to Obama, it's a mixed bag. Yes, Obama saw some of his numbers go down slightly among certain voting groups, most notably Republicans. But he's still much more competitive with independent voters when matched up against John McCain than Hillary Clinton is. And he still sports a net-positive personal rating of 49-32, which is down only slightly from two weeks ago, when it was 51-28. Again, the biggest shift in those negative numbers was among Republicans.
VIDEO: NBC Political Director Chuck Todd explains the new NBC News/WSJ poll, saying Obama maintained a good perception among voters, despite the Wright controversy.
*** McCain-ocrats? For the second poll in a row, more than 20% of Clinton and Obama supporters say they would support McCain when he's matched up against the other Democrat. There is clearly some hardening of feelings among some of the most core supporters of both Democrats, though it may be Obama voters, who are bitterer in the long run.
*** Carolina on my mind: By the way, Clinton also talks economy again today, and does it in North Carolina. With her foray into NC and Bill's all-out campaigning in a bunch of other post-PA states, all signs are pointing to this going on at least through the last contests in June. But keep a particular eye on Clinton in Carolina. This is becoming more and more of a must-win state; A combination of a 15-20 point win in Pennsylvania and an upset in the Tar Heel state would shake up this race in the same way Obama's 11-contest win streak in February did.
*** Shakedown: Why didn't the Clinton campaign get superdelegates to sign on to that letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather than donors? Doesn't this letter coming only from major donors make it look like a threat or a shakedown? Wouldn't this letter coming from fellow superdelegates have had more impact? One Dem operative who doesn't have a horse in this fight reminds us: "Members of Congress -- who are superdelegates -- make up the DCCC. Threatening the DCCC is essentially threatening the very superdelegates HRC's trying to court. The HRC donor letter will just push undeclared superdelegates in Congress leaning toward Obama to endorse him sooner. It also reinforces the notion that the Clintons will destroy the party to win the WH. I just don't get it."
*** Supers turned off: A handful of undecided and pledged superdelegates come forward to tell NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger that her campaign's tactics in recent weeks are doing more harm than good.
*** A fall preview: Those who love the Veepstakes will enjoy today's Obama speech, not for the substance but for the person who will introduce him: Michael Bloomberg. While the mayor says he's not endorsing anyone (yet?), this is the second time Bloomberg has given Obama a high profile photo-op (remember the meeting at that diner a few months back?). As for Obama's economic speech, per the campaign, "Obama takes on special interests for housing/economic crisis; lays out principles for new regulatory framework." Obama, himself, previewed the speech on the plane yesterday. "I will be giving some, I will be outlining, my thoughts on the current state of the economy. How we got there and some very specific prescriptions, what helped trigger the financial crisis and the financial problems." But it will be the potential of Obama-Bloomberg that could be the most important take-away. In fact, considering that anti-Israel sentiments being expressed by the Rev. Wright in these newly circulating church bulletins (see Andrea Mitchell's reporting on TODAY below in the Obama section). A fortunate thing for Obama is at least these church bulletins aren't video. The idea of a Jewish running mate might end up making more and more sense for Obama as the summer wears on.
*** Hooked? Also, did McCain take the bait? Back from his vacation, Obama made a point of trying to shift the focus to him vs. McCain again. (No talk of Hillary, by the way.) Then the McCain camp releases a statement bashing Obama this morning before his speech, calling this election a "clear choice." (Again, no mention of Hillary.)
*** Swing-state campaigning: McCain campaigns today in Colorado, a state particularly the Obama campaign has been selling as a potential Dem Red State pick up. We've already seen McCain in Michigan. How many Dems are thinking that the longer this Clinton-Obama contest goes on, the harder it is becoming for Democrats to campaign and make in-roads in those potential pick up states? The DNC tries to do its part, attacking McCain's viability out West, including Colorado and even his home state, in a conference call today with state Democratic Party leaders from those two states and Utah and Nevada.
*** On the trail: Clinton makes three stops in North Carolina, including the economic address; McCain raises money in Salt Lake City and Denver, where he also will take questions from reporters; Obama speaks on the economy at Cooper Union in New York City; Bill Clinton hits the trail hard in Pennsylvania with five stops; and so does Chelsea with three of her own in PA.
Countdown to Pennsylvania: 26 days
Countdown to North Carolina, Indiana: 40 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 222 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 299 days
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