If American voters were casting their ballot today, Democrat Barack Obama would have a slight advantage over Republican John McCain in the race for the White House, while McCain would narrowly edge out Hillary Clinton, according to the latest FOX News poll.
It’s clear Obama has the momentum — racking up wins in every state since Super Tuesday. The new poll shows he also has the largest number of people saying they would "definitely" vote for him, the most positive favorable ratings of the 2008 contenders, and the highest number saying they would feel "enthusiastic" if he were to become president.
And it’s clear who is struggling. Clinton has not only lost her lead in the race for the party’s nomination — Obama has tied her at 44 percent — but she also has the largest number of people saying they would "never" vote for her, the lowest favorable ratings, and the most saying they would feel "scared" if she won the Oval Office.
The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from February 19 to February 20. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
In the hypothetical matchups, Obama bests McCain by 4 percentage points, inside the poll’s sampling error (47 percent to 43 percent). McCain has a 3-point edge over Clinton (47 percent to 44 percent), also inside the error margin and so not statistically significant.
Nearly half of voters (47 percent) say they would "never" vote for Clinton, while 37 percent say they "definitely" would. For McCain, 41 percent would "definitely" vote for him and 34 percent "never" would. Obama performs best on this measure as 44 percent would "definitely" vote for him and 34 percent "never" would.
In addition, more voters say they would feel "enthusiastic" if Obama wins the presidency (22 percent) than would feel that way if Clinton (18 percent) or McCain wins (9 percent).
And more would be "scared" if Clinton were to become the next president (24 percent) than if Obama (17 percent) or McCain does (14 percent).
Race for the Democratic Nomination
For the first time in the FOX News poll, Obama ties Clinton among Democrats as the choice for the party’s nominee – 44 percent each. Clinton’s advantage started to narrow last month, although she still had a 10-point lead then, down from a 29-point edge in December.
"These new data confirm the Democratic nomination is up for grabs at the national level. The upcoming contests in the delegate-rich states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania may be Senator Clinton's last chance to re-gain her lost momentum," says Ernest Paicopolos, principal of Opinion Dynamics.
More than one of five Obama supporters (22 percent) says their vote is a vote "against Clinton," and slightly fewer Clinton backers (18 percent) describe their vote as one "against Obama." Majorities of both Clinton’s (76 percent) and Obama’s (71 percent) supporters say their vote is better described as for their candidate than against the opponent.
If Clinton wins the nomination, 63 percent of Democrats think she should pick Obama as her running mate. If Obama wins, fewer Democrats think he should choose Clinton — though still a 54 percent majority.
Who is Usama Rooting For?
Who does Usama bin Laden want to be the next president? More people think the terrorist leader wants Obama to win (30 percent) than think he wants Clinton (22 percent) or McCain (10 percent). Another 18 percent says it doesn’t matter to bin Laden and 20 percent are unsure