How important is the Rev. Wright to voters?

Surprise! It depends on the candidate they support.

Mike Madden
May 7, 2008 6:45AM (UTC)

Raise your hand if this surprises you -- what people think about how important "the situation with" Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (as the network exit polls phrased the question), depends on whether they support Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's supporters in both Indiana and North Carolina believed strongly that Wright was an important issue, with 72 percent of Clinton voters in Indiana and 59 percent in North Carolina saying they felt that way. Obama's voters were just as certain that Wright didn't matter -- 67 percent in Indiana and 71 percent in North Carolina said the dust-up wasn't important.


Exactly what that means is hard to say, since the question the poll asked about Wright was extremely open-ended: "In your vote in today's presidential primary, how would you rate the importance of the situation with Rev. Wright?" "The situation," of course, has gotten wall-to-wall coverage on networks, in newspapers and, yes, on Salon since Wright embarked on a publicity tour about a week and a half ago. So it's unlikely that anyone who voted today needed much more prompting about Wright in order to answer the question. But it's still fairly devoid of context. That may be because writing a question that gives much background would bias responses in one direction or another, though.

At any rate, the exit polls also found a narrow majority in both states said Wright wasn't important. That may be what finally persuades the media to let the story drop -- voters, apparently, already have.

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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