CBS Poll: Good Reviews For Obama Speech

But Problems For Democratic Candidate Remain As Fewer Think He Could Unite The Country





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(CBS) Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race this week, in which he discussed his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his controversial longtime minister, has received largely positive reviews, according to a new CBS News poll.

But the percentage of voters who think Obama would unite the country as president has dropped since late February.

Sixty-nine percent of voters who have heard or read about Obama’s speech say he did a good job addressing the issue of race relations, and 63 percent of voters following the events say they agree with Obama's views on race relations. Seventy-one percent say he did a good job explaining his relationship with Wright.

Read The Complete Poll Results

When registered voters were asked if Obama would unite the country, however, 52 percent said yes - down from 67 percent last month.

Obama's favorable rating, which stands at 43 percent, continues to outweigh his unfavorable rating of 30 percent.

Most voters following the events say they will make no difference in their vote. Seventy percent say the events will make no difference in their vote. Among those who said it would, 14 percent said it makes them more likely to vote for Obama while an equal number said it makes them less likely to support him.

Nearly a quarter of Democrats say the events have made them more likely to back Obama, while a similar number of Republicans say they are now less likely to do so. Three in four independents say the events make no difference, and the remainder are nearly evenly split between those more likely to support him and those less likely to do so.

For this poll, CBS News re-interviewed voters who were first surveyed between March 15th and 18th, 2008, in the midst of the Wright controversy and mostly before Obama’s speech on race. The goal was to gauge their reactions to Tuesday’s speech and the continuing controversy over Wright’s comments. The poll was conducted on the night of March 20th.

For more on this poll, watch the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight.

Among voters who supported Obama over presumptive Republican nominee John McCain before the speech, 23 percent say they are now more likely to support the Illinois senator. Just six percent are less likely to support him, while 69 percent say it makes no difference.

Overall, the speech and events surrounding the matter have found a wide audience. Most voters say they have heard or read some about these events, including 42 percent who have heard a lot about it. Just four percent of those surveyed had not heard about the controversy.



Interviews were conducted among 542 registered voters by telephone on March 20, 2008. These respondents were originally interviewed in a CBS News Poll conducted March 15 - 18, 2008. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points.





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