How much did Wright hurt Obama?

Barack Obama stopped falling in the polls after his big speech on race, said Michael Barone in U.S. News & World Report online, but his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has "hurt" him. Hillary Clinton apparently thinks "this i

What happened

The first national opinion poll released since Barack Obama’s big speech on race suggested that he had reversed a slide last week attributed to a barrage of criticism over incendiary sermons by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Chicago Sun-Times)

What the commentators said

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Obama has bounced back, a little, said Michael Barone in U.S. News & World Report online. But it still looks like he has been “hurt” by his two-decade association with Wright. Before the Wright controversy erupted, he had a statistically significant, 7-point lead over Hillary Clinton nationally, and the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll puts him a hair behind in what statisticians would call a tie.

That might explain why Clinton has cast aside her reluctance to “touch the Wright story,” said Jason Zengerle in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. Clinton told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s editorial that she would have left Wright’s church if he had been her pastor. “The Clinton campaign has evidently concluded that the press isn't going to bring down Obama for them.”

Clinton’s decision to wade into the Wright controversy tells us two things, said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog. “Clinton believes the media could not continue to run with this story without some added fuel from her and that she thinks this issue is a winner.”

She may be right, said the staff of CQ Politics. The Wall Street Journal reported its poll results under the headline, “Pastor Flap Hasn’t Hurt Obama,” but “the numbers did show that 55 percent of all voters were disturbed by Wright’s statements and 32 percent of those who saw Obama’s speech on race were ‘dissatisfied with (the) explanation of association with Reverend Wright.’” The pastor has clearly saddled Obama with “baggage” that could weigh him down in a tight race for the nomination.

Still, Clinton may regret her decision to weigh in, said Jeffrey Weiss in The Dallas Morning News Religion blog. Her own “religion-related linkages”—to a “secretive” religious group called The Fellowship that promotes “leadership led by God”—could “turn off” a “relatively secular Democratic base” that “gets itchy with all the God-talk.”

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