by Jill Zuckman
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s argument that she is the better Democrat to take on Republican John McCain in the general election got a boost today from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Surveys in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – crucial swing states – show Clinton beating McCain in all three. McCain would beat Sen. Barack Obama in Florida, if the election were held now, Obama would edge out McCain in Pennsylvania and they are dead even in Ohio.
The poll also shows Clinton with a 50-41 percent lead over Obama in Pennsylvania among likely Democratic primary voters. An earlier poll put Clinton’s lead at 53-41 percent.
“When it comes to November, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s strength is a big edge over Sen. Barack Obama among white voters, who have not given a majority of their votes to a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1964,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the polling institute.
The Pennsylvania primary vote splits along racial lines, with Clinton leading among white voters and Obama leading among black voters. Clinton holds a 59-34 percent lead among white Pennsylvania voters who are likely to participate in the primary, while Obama leads 73-11 percent among black Democrats likely to vote in the primary.
For the general election, the survey shows that Clinton would edge out McCain 44-42 percent in Florida and McCain would beat Obama, 46-37 percent there.
In Ohio, Clinton would beat McCain 48-39 percent, while Obama would narrowly beat McCain 43-42 percent.
And in Pennsylvania, Clinton would beat McCain by 48-40 percent if the election were held today, while Obama would beat him by 43-39 percent.
“At least for now, Sen. Clinton’s argument that she is the better general election candidate in these key battleground states appears to have some validity,” said Brown. “In this survey, her strength among white voters is why she runs better against Sen. McCain than does Sen. Obama.”