Polls Remain Close Prior To Super Tuesday But Obama Winning Kennedy Primary

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Today’s Gallup Tracking Poll shows Clinton increasing to a four point lead from yesterday. The overall trend remains the same with Obama coming from far behind to being either tied or slightly behind. Other national polls show similar results. In addition to the other polls I’ve mentioned recently, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll has Obama at 49% and Clinton at 46%, which is within the polls 4.5% margin of error. CNN combines all the polls to find:

The poll is consistent with other national surveys during the past few days. A CNN averaging of five national polls conducted in the last few days — a “poll of polls” — puts Clinton at 45 percent and Obama at 43 percent. Those five surveys were done by CNN/Opinion Research Corp., Gallup, Pew, ABC and CBS.

While close at present, Obama does have the momentum in his favor:

“Coming out of his overwhelming victory in South Carolina and followed quickly by his Kennedy family endorsements, Obama clearly has the momentum in this campaign,” said Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst.

Obama has won support from Sen. Edward Kennedy and his nieces Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and Maria Shriver, although Clinton has endorsements from former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of Robert Kennedy, and her brother Bobby Kennedy and sister Kerry.

One question remaining going into Super Tuesday is how representative this poll is of the states having primaries and of the people who will actually turn out to vote. Even if these national polls were also representative of tomorrow’s voters, the distribution of the vote would make quite a difference. Each will undoubtedly win in certain states. Even the geographic distribution of votes could make a significant difference in how the delegates are awarded. Marc Ambinder reviews some of the complexities leading to the awarding of delegates. So far Clinton “won” New Hampshire and Nevada, but Obama will probably wind up with more delegates. Similarly it is possible that the candidate who gets the most votes tomorrow might not be the one who receives the most delegates as it often comes down to winning the most Congressional districts.

What this all comes down to is that we have tons of polls but no good idea of what will really happen tomorrow. It appears unlikely that either candidate will really run away with a huge victory, but they could come out close or with either of the candidates receiving a possibly game changing advantage.

As noted above, Obama has taken the lead in the battle for the Kennedys, adding the endorsements of Ethel Kennedy as well as Maria Shriver:

Shriver told the crowded gym that she had not intended to be at the rally, and had come straight over after going horse riding with her daughter. She joked about her appearance — riding clothes, sans makeup and without having her hair done — as she added her pitch for Obama.

“If Barack Obama was a state he’d be California,” Shriver said, drawing roars from the crowd. “I mean think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader.”

And she touched on the themes of optimism and collective action that Obama has sought to build his campaign around.

“He’s not about himself. He’s about the power of us and what we can do if we come together,” Shriver said. “He is about empowering women, African Americans, Latinos, old people, young people. He’s about empowering all of us.”

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