Posted on Fri, Aug. 22, 2008

Poll: McCain holds big lead in South

Winthrop ETV survey finds Obama trailing badly in 7 of 11 states

Mary Altaffer (photog)
(photo) Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. addresses the Annual Veterans of Foreign War Convention, Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, in Orlando, Fla.

Latest Winthrop/ETV Poll results
State by state polling
Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain leads Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama across the South, according to the Winthrop/ETV poll. But the two are close in four Southern states that Democrats hope to win in November, according to Real Clear Politics, which compiles individual state polls and then produces an average from the various polls. A look at those states:

Virginia 46% 45%
N.C. 47% 43%
Georgia 50% 43%
Florida 47% 44%


8 burning questions
Beyond finding Republican presidential nominee-to-be John McCain leading Democrat Barack Obama among likely Southern voters, the Winthrop University/ETV poll also offers insights into other issues in this year’s presidential race. A look at eight of those issues:

1. QUESTION: Will Hillary Clinton supporters back Obama?

ANSWER: Yes. After a bruising nominating fight, questions lingered about whether supporters of the U.S. senator from New York would support Obama. But more than 80 percent of self-identified Clinton supporters in the poll of likely Southern voters said they would vote for Obama.

2. QUESTION: Does having a Southerner on the ticket matter?

ANSWER: No. Democrats have suggested Obama put a Southerner on the ticket to make him more competitive in the South. Some Republicans have suggested the same to draw religious conservatives to McCain. More than 70 percent of those polled said the vice presidential choice is important in helping them decide their vote. But almost nine in 10 said it makes no difference if the vice presidential candidate hails from the South.

3. QUESTION: Will there be a Bush backlash for McCain?

ANSWER: There could be. Democrats have been painting a potential McCain administration as a third President Bush term. More than half of the Southerners polled say they are very or somewhat concerned McCain will continue Bush’s policies. More than 50 percent of those polled say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president and almost two-thirds think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

4. QUESTION: What issue is most important among voters?

ANSWER: The economy. By a margin of almost 3-to-1 the Southerners polled chose the economy — 33 percent — over Iraq — 12 percent. The next most popular response, the price of gas, was cited by only 5.8 percent.

5. QUESTION: Who do Southern voters trust on the issues?

ANSWER: McCain is the choice — by double digits — to lead on the economy, the war in Iraq, taxes, illegal immigration and fighting terrorism. The candidates were judged almost even on health care.

6. QUESTION: Does the South think Obama is an elitist?

ANSWER: Perhaps not. Talk during the Democratic presidential primary suggested some voters, especially white working-class voters, thought Obama an out-of-touch elitist. But, among the Southerners polled, Obama slightly bested McCain — 41.1 percent to 39.1 percent — as the candidate who understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives.

7. QUESTION: Will race matter?

ANSWER: Three in 4 black Southerners polled said the race of the candidate did not matter to them. Among white Southerners polled, 80 percent said the race of the candidate either was “not very important