Poll: Race, Gender Not Factor For Most Ky. Democrats

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination now focuses on just a handful of states. In the final stretch, Kentucky is in the forefront along with West Virginia, Oregon, and Montana.

Regardless the outcome, Democrats will have a historic ticket with either an African-American or woman at the top.

In a WKYT/The Herald-Leader statewide poll of 500 likely Democratic voters, the majority of those surveyed don’t think Sen. Hillary Clinton’s gender or Sen. Barack Obama’s race is a factor in their electability.

The poll was conducted for WKYT and The Herald-Leader by Research 2000 last week following Obama’s definitive win in North Carolina and Clinton’s narrow victory in Indiana. The poll found 63 percent of likely Kentucky Democratic voters think Clinton's gender doesn’t make her any more or less electable. Fifty-six percent think Obama's race won't be a factor either.

"In terms of gender, it's not all that surprising,” said Joe Gershtenson of Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Kentucky Politics. “We have had a female governor so we know females can win statewide races here. That's not particularly surprising. Race is perhaps a little more surprising."

While Sen. Obama might be ahead in the popular vote and the delegate counts, Sen. Clinton shows no sign of ending her run for the presidency.

Now, her campaign trail will either find another fork in the road or a potential dead end in Kentucky. "Last time I was here I got a Louisville slugger, and it was an appropriate gift because I will always go to bat for you," Clinton told supporters in Louisville Friday night.

After pulling ahead in the super delegate count as well as the pledged delegates and popular vote, Obama told crowds in Oregon on Saturday the race is turning even more in his favor. "I think it's an encouraging sign that we're making progress, that the super delegates are moving in our direction," Obama said.

Controversies and Scrutiny

Both Clinton and Obama have been the targets of tough scrutiny. Obama for his controversial former pastor and comments about small town voters. Clinton for stretching the truth about the safety of her trip to Bosnia.

In the WKYT/The Herald-Leader poll, 43 percent said the racially-charged sermons from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright will have a negative impact on Obama's chances. But 62 percent think Obama's own comments about small-town Americans who have lost their jobs and "cling to guns or religion" won't impact their vote.

Exactly two-thirds (66 percent) of the Democrats polled say Clinton's slip about being under fire while in Bosnia years ago doesn't matter either.

The Horserace

At 11 p.m. Sunday, WKYT will reveal whether Clinton or Obama is likely to carry Kentucky on May 20 and whether likely Kentucky Democratic voters would cross party lines to support Sen. John McCain -- the presumtive Republican nominee -- if the candidate they’re voting for in the primary doesn’t win.

Poll Methodology

WKYT and The Herald-Leader conducted the poll with the assistance of Research 2000 of Olney, Md. Between May and 9, a total of 500 likely Democratic primary voters were interviewed statewide by telephone.

Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross section of exchanges was utilized to ensure and accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county.

The margin of error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. This means there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled. The margin of error is higher for any subgroup, such as gender or party affiliation.

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