The double-digit lead that Senator Barack Obama enjoyed over Sen. Hillary Clinton three weeks ago, has evaporated with both candidates experiencing a decline in their image, according to a new national poll.
The latest Pew Research Center poll found that among registered Democrats and voters likely to lean Democratic, 47 per cent said that they favoured Obama, compared with 45 per cent who backed Clinton.
That's a marked difference from the results of the survey conducted in March, when Obama with 49 per cent support had a 10 point lead over his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The tightening Democratic race reflects a modest but consistent decline in Obama's personal image rather than improved impressions of Clinton, with fewer Democrats ascribing positive qualities to Obama than did so a month ago.
Since late February, Obama's unfavourable rating has risen six points among all Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. At the same time, Clinton's unfavourable rating among Democratic voters also has increased by seven points.
White working-class Democrats, in particular, express more skeptical views of Sen. Obama, according to the survey based on phone interviews of 651 people from April 23-27.
Despite the slippage, Obama's personal image remains highly positive and surpasses Clinton's on most dimensions. Large percentages of Democratic voters continue to see him as honest, inspiring, and down-to-earth.
Although Clinton made gains in overall support among Democrats, her credibility problem is, if anything, greater than it was a month ago. The proportion of Democratic voters describing Clinton as honest fell from 65 per cent to 57 per cent and the percentage describing her as phony increased from 29 per cent to 35 per cent.