Posted April 10, 2008

Temple Poll shows Clinton continues to lead Obama in Pennsylvania

Poll also shows candidates’ coalitions
have different orientations toward voting

Senator Hillary Clinton leads Senator Barack Obama by 44 – 35 percent among Pennsylvanians likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary on April 22. Nineteen percent remain undecided or refuse to express a preference, but that group leans toward Obama. Adding in the undecided voters who lean to one candidate or the other shrinks Clinton’s lead to 47 – 41 percent.

Asked to express an opinion about the candidates on a scale from 0 to 10, just 1 percent of likely voters say they don’t know enough about the candidates to rate them. “Not many Pennsylvanians who are

Preferences of undecided
Including preferences of undecided
Another candidate
Don’t know/not sure

likely to vote in the primary remain uncertain about the candidates or their choice,” said Michael G. Hagen, director of Temple’s Institute for Public Affairs. “That’s why, despite the growing intensity of the campaign, we’ve seen very little reliable change in the polls over the past several weeks.”

Differences among demographic groups are stark:

• 83 percent of blacks favor Obama, compared to 31 percent of whites

• 79 percent under the age of 30 favor Obama, compared to 28 percent over 60 years old

• 55 percent of women favor Clinton, compared to 32 percent of men

The contest is strikingly close, however, among white men, with Obama leading in that group, 40 – 35. That group also is especially likely to express equally favorable opinions about Clinton and Obama. “White men stand out as the group with the most ambivalence about the candidates, as a group and individually,” said Hagen. “That is certainly the reason the candidates have focused so much of their attention on white men in recent weeks.”

The race remains close enough that turnout will be critical, especially in the all-important allocation of convention delegates. The two sides bring different assets to the turnout contest. The Clinton campaign has the backing of more of Pennsylvania’s top elected officials, but the Obama campaign will have more money to spend to get out the vote.

As the Poll shows, supporters of the two candidates also may be motivated to vote by quite different considerations: Clinton supporters are more likely to have a history of voting, while Obama supporters are more engaged in this particular election. The difference is due partly to the age difference between the two groups—the average Obama supporter is seven years younger than the average Clinton supporter—and partly to the success of the Obama campaign in attracting the support of people with little political experience. “Habit and enthusiasm are both very important ingredients in getting people to the polls, and these camps have the two in different measures,” according to Hagen. “It will be fascinating to see how the differences between these coalitions and between these campaign organizations interact to determine the primary’s result.”

  Clinton supporters Obama supporters
Some people seem to follow what’s going on in government and public affairs most of the time, whether there’s an election going on or not. Others aren’t that interested. Would you say you follow what’s going on in government and public affairs most of the time, some of the time, only now and then, or hardly at all? (percent “most of the time”) 55 63
Would you say you have been very much interested, somewhat interested, or not much interested in the political campaigns so far this year? (percent “very much interested”) 55 63
How much thought have you given to the coming primary election for president--a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or none at all? (percent “a great deal”) 54 62
How often would you say you vote—always, nearly always, part of the time, or seldom? (percent “always”) 66 60
Do you happen to know where people who live in your neighborhood go to vote? (percent “yes”) 85 82
Have you ever voted in the polling place or division where you now live? (percent “yes”) 83 76
Thinking back to the election in November of 2006, when Bob Casey ran against Rick Santorum for US Senator from Pennsylvania, did things come up that kept you from voting, or did you happen to vote in that election? (percent “yes, voted”) 71 69
Have you ever voted in a primary election for President, Congress, or Governor? (percent “yes”) 82 73

For this Temple Poll a randomly selected sample of Pennsylvanians registered to vote were interviewed by telephone between March 27 and April 9, 2008. Once the interviewing was complete, the data were weighted to correct for unequal probabilities of selection and response, and to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample match the population of registered voters in Pennsylvania.


The sample included 583 likely voters, identified on the basis of their voting history and engagement with the campaign. With a sample of this size, the overall margin of error attributable to sampling is 4 percentage points. The sampling error for subgroups is larger.

Additional results from the Poll will be released over the next several days.