The new CBS/NYT poll has a question (number 45) asking Democratic voters how Oprah’s support for Obama would affect their preferences: 1% said it would make them more likely to vote for him, while 14% said it would make them less likely. I think this runs against the conventional wisdom that Oprah’s popularity is a boon to Obama. She has probably deeply annoyed a small but significant number of people over the years. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, stupid gaffes about the war notwithstanding, remains a huge asset for Clinton: 44% are more likely to vote for her because he is in the campaign, and only 7% are less likely. This idea of Clinton fatigue is very attractive to journalists and pundits who have an acute case of it themselves, but I think it simply doesn’t matter to most Democrats.
Incidentally, the CBS results confirm the national polling picture Rasmussen has been showing: 22 for Giuliani, 21 for Huckabee and 16 for Romney (this gives Romney a slightly better position than Rasmussen polling). The poll asks whether or not “most people you know”‘ would vote for a Mormon, and 41% say no. It remains the case that a majority of Americans don’t know Romney’s religion. Romney’s Mormonism is one of those things that “everybody knows” if “everybody” includes journalists, pundits and bloggers, which is about as unrepresentative as it gets.
Public opinion on the war remains sharply negative. 59% believe that the war is going somewhat or very badly, against 37% who believe it is going well. Mr. Bush’s approval rating on handling Iraq is very low (28%). 72% want American forces out of Iraq within 2 years, and 49% want them out in less than a year. The standard Republican line, “as long as it takes,” gets a whopping 8%. When given a range of options and deadlines, the public’s support for continuing the war beyond 2009 is extremely weak. When given a binary “withdrawal vs. finish the mission” question, the latter gets significantly greater support because there are no intermdiate alternatives. Despite favourable media coverage, 12% believe the “surge” has made things worse, and 40% believe it has had no impact. 60% believe that “neither side” is winning the war. This cannot be blamed on the media any longer, since major newspapers and news channels have made a point of embracing the results of the “surge.” The public has simply turned against the war. A Republican Party running on an adamantly pro-war platform next year will get smashed.
Immigration is a “very important” issue for 56% and “somewhat important” for 30%. So that’s a fairly important issue. 28% favour a guest worker scheme, and 28% effectively favour deportation. Huckabee’s support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants’ children is the popular position for all respondents, getting 58% support. His position may do him no good in the primaries, but on this particular question he is apparently in line with a majority view.
P.S. The national polling is confirmed again by CNN/Opinion Research’s poll, which gives Giuliani 24, Huckabee 22 and Romney 16 (plus McCain-13, Thompson-10, and Paul-6). Huckabee is running away with South Carolina right now, according to Survey USA: he has 30 to Romney’s 19. Giuliani has collapsed to 13% and fourth place.