A new Suffolk University poll of Democratic voters in the state of Pennsylvania showed Hillary Clinton with a ten point lead over Barack Obama (52%-42%), but the real surprise is who disappointed Democrats in the state might consider voting for in the fall.
Twenty percent of Democrats said that they would vote for McCain if their candidate didn’t win the nomination, and another 20% were undecided. (I’ll give you three guesses who the McCain 20% is voting for tomorrow).
However, the big surprise was the showing of Ralph Nader. Four percent of disappointed PA Democratic voters said that they would vote for Ralph Nader. Seventeen percent of this same group said that they would consider voting for Nader if their top choice does not win the nomination. When the Democrats were asked who would be the next president, 42% picked Obama, 32% picked Clinton, 14% picked McCain, and 12% were undecided.
The Democratic Party is going to have to do a lot of work if they plan to hold on to Pennsylvania in the fall campaign. Obama has not convinced older voters here to support him. Liberal Democrats are the ones leaning towards Nader, and my guess is that the more conservative Democrats in the center of the state could drift to McCain.
A strong Ralph Nader is really the worst case scenario for the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania. Obama might be able to weather a few defections over to McCain, but even a 4% showing by Nader might be enough to flip the state into the GOP column, as Al Gore won the state by 5% in 2000, and John Kerry won the state by 2% in 2004.
This poll is more evidence that Clinton’s win here tomorrow won’t be doing the Democratic Party any favors. With it looking like the nomination battle is all but settled, it is time for Democrats to start looking towards November.
Obama has got to be prepared to spend his time in the state convincing Clinton supporters to join with him. Perhaps, Barack Obama’s biggest challenge won’t come from John McCain, but a disgruntled wing of the Democratic Party, who could express their displeasure by supporting Nader.
Suffolk University Poll: