Obama, Clinton neck and neck in polls

February 3, 2008 8:22:45 PM PST
Polls now show Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton neck and neck going into Tuesdays California primary. Others show Senator Obama with a slight lead.

Some analysts attribute his surge in the polls to his recent endorsements, especially those from the Kennedy's.

"Kennedy brought an enthusiasm to the campaign that would not have existed without him," says Professor Robert Smith.

That enthusiasm can be seen at Senator Obama's San Francisco campaign office on Market Street. It's also evident in Senator Obama supporter, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris

"There is momentum that is really quite exciting. And that momentum is going to carry on beyond February 5."

ABC7 political analyst Robert Smith says that while celebrity endorsements add color to a campaign, they don't necessarily affect the way people vote, but poll numbers could.

"I think they do. I think for example, the newspapers and the headlines and television stations lead with the idea that Obama has closed the gap. That, in fact, will have some kind of bandwagon effect," says Smith.

Smith warns that while polls show people who say they will vote for a particular candidate, that's not always the case.

"We know from New Hampshire, that often times White voters say one thing in respect to voting for a Black candidate and then do another on election day."

Senator Clinton supporters hope that's what will happen -- that voters will turn out in droves for their candidate as they did in New Hampshire.

Clinton supporter, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, doesn't trust the polls.

"One thing I know about polls in this election year is that they seem to be wrong more than that they're right. They were wrong in Nevada, wrong in New Hampshire, even wrong in Iowa.

Mayor Newsom says this latest poll showing Senator Obama in the lead doesn't take into consideration absentee votes.

"I think what is systematic is when you have four out of ten votes already cast in California, that the polls become less significant," says Newsome.

As far as the Republican candidates this Tuesday, Professor Smith says it's a done deal.

"McCain will, in effect, be the Republican nominee and Romney may go on a couple of more primaries. After that, I think he'll be gone."

Professor Smith says that Senator Clinton needs to get at least 51 percent of the vote in California this Tuesday to slow senator Obama down. If she doesn't, he says Senator Obama's momentum could derail her leads in other state primaries.