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Winthrop ETV Poll Survey of Likely Voters in 11 Southern States Show McCain Leading Obama

Quick Facts

 Republican candidate Sen. John McCain leads Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama 51 to 35 percent.
 The economy is the number one issue on voters' minds.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The results of the latest Winthrop/ETV Poll, conducted among likely voters in 11 Southern states between August 1 and August 17, are in.

The results were released exclusively during the Thursday, Aug. 21 edition of South Carolina ETV’s “The Big Picture” program at 7:30 p.m. ET. ETV is the public television and radio network in South Carolina. The Winthrop/ETV Poll was conducted among 1088 likely voters from AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA. Data utilizing all respondents has a margin of error of plus/minus 2.97 percent. As is true with all survey data, any results that use a subset of the respondents will have a higher margin of error. Data is weighted by state. States are sub-divided as follows: Deep South: AL, GA, LA, MS, SC. Peripheral South: AR, FL, NC, TN, TX, VA.

Please note: Southern African Americans in this sample were overwhelmingly supporters of Obama (only 3.2 percent identified themselves as McCain supporters).  See methodology description for clarication of Christian, Evangelical and working class whites. 
Commenting on the results, Dr. Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop/ETV Poll initiative, said, “McCain’s support is rock solid in so many ways that in those places where Obama identifies even the smallest hairline crack, he needs to pry it open if he hopes to draw voters away from McCain--especially in a state like Virginia, where the race may ultimately be decided by a handful of votes. The Southern working class is still not familiar with Obama, and trust is the key to this demographic. Because they aren’t ready to put their trust in him yet, Obama can utilize the convention to fully identify himself to Americans, and launch two massive campaigns, one saying ‘Here’s who I am’ and the other ‘Here’s how McCain is wrong.’”

Among the Winthrop/ETV Poll findings:

* When given the scenario where the election was being held the day they were called, and the candidates were Barack Obama and John McCain, among all of the likely voters, McCain led with 51.3 percent over Obama’s 35.1 percent.

* Sen. Hillary Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton will play highly visible roles at the Democratic Convention next week, some say in an effort to salve lingering wounds over Hillary Clinton’s defeat at Obama’s hands. Yet, when asked if they ever seriously considered not voting in the general election, if Hillary Clinton didn’t get the nod, almost 80 percent of self-identified Clinton supporters said no.

* Although over 70 percent of those polled said the VP choice was very, or somewhat, important in helping them decide their pick for the top spot, over 87 percent said it makes no difference if the VP candidate hailed from the South.

* Over 50 percent of all the respondents disapprove of the way George Bush is handling his job as president, while almost 63 percent of them feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.

* The one issue respondents cited as the most important to them in the upcoming presidential election was overwhelmingly the economy (35.7 percent). By a margin of almost three-to-one they chose the economy over Iraq (12.0), and the next most popular response, the price of gas, by close to a six-to-one margin (5.8 percent).

* When asked who would do a better job, Obama or McCain, in tackling energy (including gas prices), the situation in Iraq, taxes, illegal immigration, and terrorism, McCain stacked up a double-digit lead on each of those issues.

* Who would do a better job on healthcare elicited a far different response. Obama and McCain were neck-and-neck, with less than one percent separating the two (41.6 McCain to 40.8 Obama).

* When it comes to which candidate understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives, Obama slightly bested McCain among all those polled (41.1 to 39.1) and by an over six percent margin among those likely voters living in the peripheral South (43.2 to 36.8) in NC, VA, FL, AR, TN, TX. Some believe that three of these states are in play, and may go Democratic on Election Day.

* Fully one-third of the poll’s respondents felt that neither Obama nor McCain had a clear plan for solving the country’s problems.

* Over 56 percent of all those polled said it was very, or somewhat important that a president has served in the U.S. military, while over 28 percent thought it was not at all important; less than six percentage points separated those who are at least somewhat concerned from those who are least somewhat unconcerned McCain will pursue policies too similar to George Bush’s; almost half of all respondents (49.4) feel Obama lacks the necessary experience to be president.

* Despite the fact that this will be the first time that Americans have the opportunity to vote for an African-American for president, almost three-out-of-four blacks say that the race of the candidate for president is either not very important, or not at all important.

* Among the remaining respondents (All, Deep South, Peripheral South, Whites, Working Class Whites), at least 80 percent said the race of the candidate was either not very important, or not at all important.

* McCain will be turning 72 on Aug. 29. When asked at what age would you say someone is too old to run for the presidency, over one-third either said no age is too old, or they weren’t sure what that age would be. The median age identified by respondents as “too old” was 74.

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