Clinton/Obama, Moderate/Liberal

It’s been my view that Hillary Clinton is a politician whose public image is more liberal than the reality, whereas Barak Obama is more liberal than his image and that this is a good reason to favor Obama. GFR characterizes this as a “developing myth” citing yomder Washington Post article:

Among Democrats, Clinton leads the field with 39 percent, followed by Obama at 17 percent, Edwards at 12 percent, former vice president Al Gore at 10 percent and Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the party’s 2004 nominee, at 7 percent. No other Democrat received more than 2 percent.

When those surveyed were asked their second choice, Clinton’s advantage became even more evident. She is the first or second choice of 60 percent of those surveyed, with Obama second at 33 percent.

Clinton receives significantly higher support among women than men (49 percent to 29 percent) and is favored by more moderates than liberals. Obama has almost equal support among men and women but has twice as much support among liberals as among moderates.

I’m not actually sure what this proves. The poll is measuring Clinton’s support among moderates relative to her support from liberals and, again, Obama’s support among moderates relative to his support among liberals. What’s more, it’s measuring their support in a race against each other for the Democratic nomination. The relevant question, however, is which candidate is likely to do better among moderate voters in a general election and the poll didn’t ask that question. The full poll does give nationwide approve/disapprove numbers with no ideological breakdowns. Clinton is 56/40 approve/disapprove which is a lot better than where I would have guessed. Obama is 44/23 which I’d say is better (a 1.4:1 approve:disapprove ratio is worse than a 1.93:1 ratio) but certainly both are well-enough liked at this point that you could see either winning an election.


Other polling note is that Nancy Pelosi is pretty well-liked at 43/33. That’s not great, but it’s way better than Bush at 36/62 so there’s absolutely no reason Democrats should feel some need to distance themselves from her, worry that the GOP can succeed by running against Pelosi, or think that Pelosi herself should avoid from feisty give-and-take with the president.