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More Collateral Democratic Damage

5:27 PM, Apr 28, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
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Earlier today I wrote that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's hard fought campaign in Pennsylvania benefited John McCain in the Keystone state, based on the most recent polling. But the brutal primary fighting is also exposing broader weakness for the Illinois Senator in national surveys and creating doubts about his long term electoral juice among some of his party's strategists.

There is a growing sense of unease among Democratic political pros I talk to that he may be unstoppable when it comes to the nomination, but very beatable in a general election. He's like a launched political missile that the party can't recall. This all ads up to mounting worry (not yet panic, but close) among many party faithful that the Illinois Senator's consistent lack of vote-getting prowess among certain key groups--such as Hispanic, Jewish, Catholic, and low-income white voters--creates a huge opportunity for John McCain and real trouble for Democrats in November.

"Obama's not ready for prime time and is not the best candidate with these key groups," one political consultant told me today. "I don't know how they let it get to this point, but there's no turning back now," he said.

This Rasmussen report released today suggests Republicans are growing more confident in their ability to beat Obama as well. The number of GOP identifiers who believe Obama would be a tougher candidate dropped by 17 points in the last month. It also notes independent voters--a key target bloc for both McCain and Obama--are also losing confidence that the Illinois Senator is the best potential Democratic candidate.

The survey notes that self-identified Democrats are not feeling the inside-the-Beltway consultant worries--at least not yet. According to Rasmussen:

"While Republicans and unaffiliated voters are less likely to see Obama as the stronger general election candidate, attitudes among Democrats remain unchanged. By a 51% to 37% margin, Democrats believe Obama will do better in November."

But if he continues to lose Catholics who attend church regularly by a 74%-26% margin, or white voters earning under $50,000 per year by large margins--as this exit poll suggests--the wall of worry will spread among Democrats.