Odds and ends

03/17/2008 04:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Here are three interesting poll-related reads I encountered over the weekend, all dealing with the Obama-Clinton race: .

First, my National Journal colleague Ron Brownstein looks closely at what recent surveys have to say about the potential general election coalitions for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and concludes that while "Obama offers greater potential rewards as a nominee," he "also presents greater risks:"

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, for instance, Obama carried independents against McCain by 6 percentage points, while McCain carried them against Clinton by the same amount; the difference mostly reflected Obama's stronger showing among independents earning at least $50,000 annually. Other surveys, such as a Quinnipiac University poll in the key battleground of Pennsylvania, have found that Obama also swipes more Republicans from McCain than Clinton does.

This all tracks Obama strengths familiar from the primaries. But primary-season trends more troubling for Obama are also persisting. In the national Pew survey, and in Quinnipiac polls of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama lost more Democrats to McCain than Clinton did. In the Pew survey, Obama struggled particularly among the same blue-collar white Democrats resisting him in the primaries: Fully 30 percent of white Democrats earning less than $30,000 a year preferred McCain over Obama. Clinton would lose only half as many of them to McCain, the polls indicate. In the Quinnipiac surveys, Clinton likewise outpolled Obama against McCain among white women without college degrees, a key general election swing group that has overwhelmingly preferred her in the primaries.

Second, Matt Bai devotes his New York Times Magazine column to an argument that has raged in the blogosphere for many weeks: "Obama wins in major urban areas but can’t seem to win in urbanized states, while Clinton wins in rural communities but consistently loses in rural states." To illustrate the point, the Times created this intriguing chart showing exit poll results in six states tabulated across urban, suburban and rural areas:

03-17 NYTimes graphic

He reviews several relevant theories for the pattern, but seems most taken by this one:

What this suggests, perhaps, is that living in close proximity to other races — sharing industries and schools and sports arenas — actually makes Americans less sanguine about racial harmony rather than more so. The growing counties an hour’s drive from Cleveland and St. Louis are filled with white voters whose parents fled the industrial cities of their youth before a wave of African-Americans and for whom social friction and economic competition, especially in an age of declining opportunity, are as much a part of daily life as traffic and mortgage payments. As Erica Goode wrote in these pages last year, Robert Putnam and other sociologists have, in fact, found that people living in more diverse areas evince less trust for others — no matter what their race. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that while white Democrats in rural states are apparently willing to accept the notion of a racially transcendent candidate, those living in the shadow of postindustrial atrophy seem to have a harder time detaching from enduring stereotypes, and they may be less optimistic that the country as a whole would actually elect a black candidate.

Third, on the Monkey Cage, GWU political scientist Lee Sigelman blogs a compilation the various "opponent dissatisfaction" scores from the exit polls since South Carolina. In other words, what percentage of Clinton voters say they would be dissatisfied if Obama is the nominee, and vice versa.

03-17 sigelman dissatisfaction.png

Sigelman notes several patterns in these numbers, but this one addresses the question I have heard most often:

Since Super Tuesday (February 5), Obama’s supporters have expressed greater dissatisfaction about a potential Clinton nomination than they were doing before then — again, presumably as a result of Clinton’s attacks on their favored candidate. For Clinton’s supporters, there has been little movement over time in their dissatisfaction with Obama’s possible nomination.