Hillary Clinton (52 percent) leads Barack Obama (42 percent) among likely Pennsylvania Democratic voters, according to a poll released today by Suffolk University. Four percent of Democratic voters were undecided, and 2 percent refused a response. However, 20 percent of these likely Democratic voters said they would vote for John McCain in November if their Democratic choice does not win their party's nomination.

Disappointed voters say they'll defect

In addition to the 20 percent of disgruntled Democratic voters defecting to McCain, another 4 percent would vote for independent Ralph Nader, and 20 percent were undecided about what they would ultimately do in November.

 "Hillary Clinton's projected win in Pennsylvania poses some serious problems for the Democratic Party at this point," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "First, it continues a bitter battle between the Democratic combatants; second, with 20 percent of core Democratic supporters fleeing to McCain, electability in November becomes a quantifiable problem; and third, it begs the question of who in the Democratic Party will become the ultimate peacemaker."

The Nader factor

Nader's 4 percent could potentially quadruple, as 17 percent of Democratic respondents said that if their first choice does not get the Democratic nomination, they may vote for Nader.

 Asked who would be the next president, more Democrats picked Obama (42 percent) regardless of whom they personally supported. Thirty-two percent chose Clinton, and 14 percent chose McCain, with 12 percent undecided.

Clinton seen strong in debate

A majority of respondents (56 percent) said they watched the ABC televised debate, while 44 percent did not. Clinton was the apparent winner among those who watched the debate: 46 percent said they were most impressed by her, 26 percent indicated Obama, and 28 percent were undecided.

Democrats were mostly forgiving of the recent controversies surrounding Clinton and Obama. Forty-two percent indicated that Clinton's Bosnia comment was just a mistake, while 25 percent said she exaggerated, and 21 percent said she outright lied. Nor did Obama's bitterness comment have traction with likely voters. Thirty-two percent agreed that his comment showed he is out of touch with rural Pennsylvania voters, while 56 percent disagreed.

Clinton (42 percent) was seen as the candidate best equipped to solve the country's economic troubles, followed by Obama (31 percent) and McCain (10 percent), with 17 percent undecided.

In other Suffolk University findings, 42 percent of those surveyed favored making the current administration’s tax cuts permanent, while 41 percent opposed. Yet, 27 percent favored tax increases to help close the budget deficit gap, while 65 percent opposed. 

Methodology


The Suffolk University poll was conducted April 19 - April 20, 2008. The margin of error on the statewide survey of 600 is +/- 4.00 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the statewide survey were likely Democratic Primary voters in the April 22 Pennsylvania Democratic Presidential Primary. Marginals and 80 pages of cross-tabulation data are available. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

Suffolk University is calling a selected bellwether area in Pennsylvania on the evenings of April 20 and 21 as an added predictor module for possible election outcomes. This data will be posted April 22.