Sharpton Sizes Up 2008 Contenders

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Al Sharpton said Thursday he’s waiting to see how the 2008 presidential field shapes up before deciding whether to declare himself a candidate.

The civil rights activist spent the day on Capitol Hill, meeting with the four Democratic senators who are pursuing the presidency – Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois. Each met privately with Sharpton in their office.

“I’m not making any endorsements today,” Sharpton, who ran in 2004, told reporters at the end of his meeting with Obama.

Obama said the two talked about their shared agenda of fighting for the dispossessed. “I assured him that I not only want to hear his views and thoughts and policy recommendations, but publicly any of us who step into this fight for the nomination have to be held accountable and speak to these issues,” he said.

Sharpton said they talked about economics, health care and education issues. “We are going to keep talking and he knows I’m talking to everybody,” he said.

The normally loquacious Sharpton was unusually curt and cut off further questioning by saying he was behind schedule. But he told reporters who followed him that he would decide about his own candidacy “once I see what these guys do or don’t do.”

Hillary leads Obama among black voters

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Parsing the Polls: Inside the ’08 numbers

By Chris Cillizza

THE FIX Washington Post’s Politics Blog 1/24/07

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll pegged New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) as the leaders in the coming presidential nomination fights.

While polls this far out — especially of a national sample rather than a pool of Iowa or New Hampshire voters — function more a test of name identification than a predictor of the eventual nominee, a look beyond the topline numbers gives us a glimpse of voter perceptions about the best known candidates.

Thanks to Post polling director — and all-around good guy — Jon Cohen, we have access to the some of the internal numbers from the Post survey.

Let’s Parse the Polls!

Clinton appears to start the race in the pole position as she led Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) 41 percent to 17 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) placed third with 11 percent.

Clinton’s lead overall extends to most subgroups in the survey. A few are particularly interesting:

* Among non-white voters Clinton led Obama 56 percent to 16 percent. Cohen notes that “non white” encompasses African American, Hispanic, Asian and “other” voters, but the subgroup is dominated by black voters. In fact, if you combine black voters in the Post’s December and January surveys, Clinton leads Obama among black voters 60 percent to 20 percent. Given that Obama is black and would be the first African-American elected president, it’s somewhat surprising that the historic nature of his candidacy has not galvanized the black community. Of course there are two mitigating factors: First, former President Bill Clinton remains an iconic figure in the black community and some of his popularity appears to be wearing off on his wife. Second, Hillary Clinton remains a far better known commodity nationwide than Obama. As hard as it is to believe, there are still plenty of potential voters who know little or nothing about Obama; few people can say the same of Clinton.