Even though Sen. Barack Obama lost the California primary to Sen. Hillary Clinton by 18 percentage points, he is now favored among Democratic voters, according to the latest Field Poll.
Obama is now preferred over Clinton by 51 percent to 38 percent – nearly the reverse of Clinton's 51.5 percent to Obama's 43.2 percent in the California primary.
The flip in preferences from Clinton to Obama seems to signal increasing acceptance that the Illinois senator will be the party's nominee in November.
Since California's Feb. 5 primary, "a lot has happened in other states and there appears to be a consensus view that Obama has the delegates he needs to be the likely nominee," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the California Field Poll. "Californians are jumping onto the bandwagon and saying they're likely to support Obama."
A majority of Democratic voters polled said they would be more likely to support the Democratic ticket if it included both Obama and Clinton. However, Clinton supporters were more enthusiastic about an Obama-Clinton ticket than Obama backers were about the reverse lineup.
In a related poll that included Democratic, Republican and independent voters, Obama and Clinton each held a 17 percentage-point lead in the state over presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
DiCamillo said the poll findings indicate trouble for McCain in the state, despite the embrace of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and McCain's appeal as a senator from the border state of Arizona. He said McCain is particularly hurt in California by voter perceptions tying him to President Bush's policy on the Iraq war.
"I think the closeness of his position on the war [to Bush] may play better in other parts of the country," DiCamillo said. "But Californians are pretty tired of the war, and it's weighing him down."
In a Field Poll last December, California voters disapproved of Bush's handling of the Iraq war by 72 percent to 24 percent, with a 91-8 margin among Democrats and an 80-14 margin among independent voters.
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