When I got an e-mail pointing me to these poll results yesterday…
New South Carolina Poll: Obama expands lead
Barack Obama 44
Hillary Clinton 28
John Edwards 15
Dennis Kucinich 1
… I held off on posting them, because I wanted independent confirmation from a source I know more about. Sure, as the e-mail pointed out, this outfit "correctly predicted John McCain’s victory in last weekend’s Republican primary," but then so did a lot of people.
I will say in Public Policy Polling’s behalf that The Wall Street Journal had no such qualms, reporting its findings today without qualifications:
After lagging far behind Mrs. Clinton in state polls for much of last year, Mr. Obama has jumped ahead. According to an automated poll conducted Monday by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Obama leads Mrs. Clinton 44% to 28%, with about 12% of respondents undecided. As late as October, Mrs. Clinton had a 20-percentage-point lead in many surveys.
But for the sake of consistency, I tend to wait each day for Zogby’s latest (even though in one dramatic instance this season, he got it dramatically wrong, but who can account for such factors as this?). Anyway, here’s what Zogby had to say today:
Clinton nearly 20 points back; Edwards lags further
UTICA, New York – Buoyed by a tide of African-American support, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is almost 20 points ahead of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the days ahead of the South Carolina Democratic Party primary.
A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby telephone poll taken Jan. 20-22 shows Obama holding 43% support from likely Democratic voters, compared to Clinton’s 25% support. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards trails at 15%. The survey included 811 likely Democratic primary voters and has a margin for error of +/-3.4 percentage points.
African Americans, a group that made up slightly more than half of the sample, backed Obama by a margin of 65% to Clinton’s 16%. Eighteen percent of black voters said they were undecided. Clinton did better among white voters, getting 33% support to 32% for Edwards. Obama lagged at just 18% among whites.
I should add that, in commentary Zogby offered to paying subscribers, he also said the following:
Like other states before, this race appears to be fluid. After the first night of polling, Obama led by some 20 points. The second night alone, Clinton was down by just 10. So, is there movement? Yes, back and forth.
The question here in South Carolina is, if Obama wins South Carolina, will his win be big enough? If his lead is cut to single digits, given where this race has been in recent weeks, it stands to be a big victory for Clinton.
To me, that’s really stretching the expectations game. A win by Barack Obama in South Carolina, after having been well behind Sen. Clinton for most of 2007, is a clear, meaningful win. The Clinton campaign knows what’s coming, which is why she has left the state — to give herself implausible, "I-didn’t-really-try-in-South-Carolina" deniability.