Pre-poll survey of key primaries shows Clinton ahead of Obama

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Washington, May 6 : A poll commissioned ahead of two key primaries in Indiana and North Carolina has showed Hillary Rodham Clinton leading against her Democratic Party rival Barak Obama by seven percentage points.

According to findings of the USA TODAY - Gallup Poll, Obama's favourability ratings are down by six percentage points. The statements of his former pastor, who solemnised his marriage with Michelle and who blessed Obama when he decided to run for president, have dealt a serious blow to Obama's chances.

Some voters have now reportedly questioned the Illinois Senator's values, his credibility and his electability following the controversy.

Before the controversy, Obama led by 10 points. Clinton is now seen as the stronger candidate by five points.

It may be recalled that Obama had acknowledged his former pastor's suggestions that US actions had invited the 9/11 attacks and that the American Government could have been behind the spread of AIDS in urban areas.

In the past two months, Obama has whittled Clinton's superdelegate lead by half, a key gain for the 47-year old Senator because neither candidate can win the 2,025 delegates needed for nomination in the remaining nine state and territorial contests.

Clinton, 60, has a 20-superdelegate lead, 268-248, but Obama holds the overall advantage in delegates, including committed superdelegates, 1,736.5-1,602.5.

That means the superdelegates, the nearly 800 party officials and office holders free to back either candidate regardless of state votes, will decide the nominee. So far, 516 have chosen sides.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are concerned about damage being done to the party's chances in the fall against Republican nominee John McCain by this prolonged and divisive campaign.

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