Will Bunch reports here and on his blog, Attytood:
For the last week, Barack Obama has been grabbing and then extending a national lead among Democratic primary voters. But it was unclear whether that mojo extended to Pennsylvania, where Hillary Clinton's support -- especially among blue-collar whites -- appeared rock solid.
Now comes the first evidence that Obama is closing the gap in Pennsylvania: a new Rasmussen Reports poll.
The poll of 730 Democratic primary voters in the Keystone State, dated yesterday, shows Clinton's once double-digit lead over Obama is down to just five points -- 47 percent to 42 percent -- with 11 percent not certain who'd they vote for.
The poll suggests that news accounts what Clinton called -- in a meeting with the Daily News editoral board last week -- "a misstatement" over sniper fire during a 1996 trip to Bosnia have definitely hurt the New York senator. Some 40 percent of the Democrats surveyed said the Bosnia flap will be "very important" or "somewhat important" in how they vote here on April 22. The Pennsylvanians also told the pollsters that the economy is by far the No. 1 issue to them, and a whopping 91 percent said that the economy is getting worse these days.
As with previous polls, the numbers suggest resentment from the primary battle may carry over into the fall campaign against Republican John McCain -- even more so if Obama is the nominee. Some 22 percent of Democrats called it either "not very likely" or "not at all likely" that they'd vote for Obama in the fall, while the comparable number for Clinton is 17 percent. Despite that, a narrow margin -- 45-to-43 percent -- believed that Obama has a better chance of winning the overall general election. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
One note of local interest: Gov. Rendell's aggressive promotion of the Clinton campaign has not done wonders for his standing among his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats. Some 47 percent say he's only doing a "fair" or "poor" job.
Here's some analysis of the numbers from Rasmussen:
Obama recently received a key endorsement from Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and has also spent more on television ads than Clinton. If Obama is able to pull off an upset in the Keystone State, it would effectively end the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Obama currently leads Clinton nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. However, while an Obama victory could end the nomination battle, Clinton remains ahead in the state and recently demonstrated her ability to finish strong in the Ohio and Texas Primaries.