FOX News Poll: Wright Ties Hurt Obama Campaign

As the Rev. Jeremiah Wright travels around the country on a speaking tour and as Sen. Barack Obama tries to distance himself from the controversial pastor, Americans are making some harsh judgments on Wright’s message, according to the latest FOX News poll.

On the surface, a majority of Americans (52 percent) says they care very little or not at all about the relationship between Obama and Wright, and four in 10 say that relationship would have no impact on their vote; however, a look below the surface shows how much this issue is influencing the presidential race.

• Click here to view full results of the poll (pdf).

Those disinclined to vote for the Illinois senator based on his ties to Wright (44 percent) outweigh those who would be inclined to vote for him (12 percent) by a wide margin. While the margin is somewhat closer among Democrats (36 percent disinclined; 16 inclined), the toll on Obama is still quite severe.

And, despite that the bulk of independent voters (49 percent) says the issue would make no difference to their vote, the lessened likelihood to vote for Obama outpaces greater likelihood by a nearly 8-to-1 margin (39 percent to 5 percent).

African-American voters are closely divided on this question. A slim plurality (21 percent) says the controversy would make them more inclined to vote for Obama, while nearly as many (18 percent) say they’d be less likely.

The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from April 28 to April 29. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

On the "bottom line" question of whether Wright has damaged the Obama campaign, seven in 10 (70 percent) think he has — while nearly as many Democrats (64 percent) and almost three of four independents (71 percent) agree with that assessment.

A slim majority of African-American voters (54 percent) does not believe Wright has damaged Obama’s campaign, while a substantial 43 percent believe he has.

When asked to gauge whether Wright’s message is "pro" or "anti" American, the result is clear-cut. More than half (52 percent) judge the Chicago pastor’s message as anti-American, while 14 percent see it as pro-American. About one-third of Americans either can’t decide the nature of the message (21 percent) or think it is a mixture of pro- and anti- American sentiment (13 percent).

Among Democrats, the results show a plurality (46 percent) views the reverend’s message as anti-American and 18 percent see it as pro-American. Similarly, independents view Wright’s message as anti-American by a 42 percent to 12 percent margin.

African-American voters are more likely to see the pastor’s message as pro-American — by a 34 percent to 25 percent margin.

In a slightly different vein, respondents were asked to determine whether Wright is promoting a message of racial tolerance or one that is anti-white.

Forty-seven percent of Americans take the position the message is anti-white, with 16 percent viewing the message as racially tolerant. This is essentially mirrored in the sentiment of Democrats — who also see Wright’s message as more anti-white (41 percent) than racially tolerant (19 percent).

African-American voters think Wright is promoting a message that is racially tolerant (27 percent) more than they think it is an anti-white message (21 percent).

Ernie Paicopolos is a Principal at Opinion Dynamics Corp.