Barack Obama's image with voters has been taking a hit recently, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported Thursday; Pew also suggested that a trend among Hillary Clinton's supporters may be responsible for at least part of the drop.
One data point Pew uses to back this theory is the percentage of Clinton voters who believe Democrats will be unified in their support of Obama if he's the nominee. "Just 46% of those who support Clinton for the nomination say the party will unite behind Obama if he is the nominee," Pew says. "In March, 58% of Clinton supporters said the party would rally behind Obama if he is the nominee."
I'm typically skeptical of the credibility of results from a question that asks respondents to predict what other people will do. But there's one other bit of evidence as well:
Obama's diminished popularity and support among white women may in part be an indication of a growing backlash against him among Clinton's women supporters. The survey finds that as many 39% of Clinton's female supporters believe that her gender has hurt her candidacy. In turn, favorable opinions of Obama have tumbled among women who support Clinton -- from 58% in March to 43% currently. By contrast, there has been a slight increase in positive views of Obama over this period among men who support Clinton (from 42% in March to 47% currently).
The question is whether this disaffection will continue once the bitterness of the primaries is done; the general feeling among political observers is that voters typically come home to their party even if they were angry about how the primary turned out or how it was conducted. The Republican Party, for instance, has largely come together behind presumptive nominee John McCain despite a divisive fight for the nomination earlier this year.