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Has Iraq Stopped Weighing Mccain Down?

A couple interesting tidbits from First Read about the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out last night:

Meanwhile, McCain is up among ... white suburban women (44-38). However, Obama has a seven-point edge (46-39) among all white women. How important is that lead? NBC/WSJ co-pollster Neil Newhouse (R) explains that Republican candidates always expect to win white men by a substantial margin, but it’s white women that usually decide the race. “If a Republican wins among white women, we usually win that election,” he says, noting that George Bush carried that group in 2000 and 2004. The poll was conducted of 1,000 registered voters from June 6-9 (Clinton endorsed Obama on June 7), and it has a +/- 3.1% margin of error.

If Obama is up seven among all white women, but down six among white suburban women (presumably more affluent on average), that suggests a comfortable lead among downscale white women--one of the groups Hillary did very well with, and which a lot of Democrats feared might defect to McCain (or that some of them would, in any case). That doesn't mean they won't, but it's nice to see them supporting Obama at this point. I'd guess the suburban women supporting McCain will be easier to win over than the downscale women supporting McCain, since the former will generally feel less comfortable with him once they find out how socially conservative he is (as Jon Chait pointed out here), while many of the latter won't be put off by this.

Also, First Read flags this interesting development:

By the narrowest majority yet, voters are basically evenly divided over the idea of troop withdrawal beginning in 2009 (49%) vs. waiting until there's stability (45%). That said, 54% still believe that victory in Iraq ISN’T possible, but the electorate appears to be a tad more patient on the issue. This should be good news for McCain who has been preaching patience. And it could be one piece of evidence why the Democrats -- who believe they got an opening yesterday with McCain's rather blunt assessment of the importance of withdrawing the troops -- could be overplaying their Iraq hand. But unlike 2005 and 2006, when Iraq was the driving issue dragging down the GOP and Bush, it now appears the economy has become the new anchor.

I'm skeptical that Democrats are overplaying their hand on Iraq, if only because public opinion seems malleable enough that attacking McCain on the issue will have some effect. (Recall that McCain only really started taking hits on Iraq--and everything else--during the last week or so.) That said, it's certainly possible that Iraq won't be a complete albatross for McCain, which would benefit him enormously. As I've said before, it's the only thing he seems to want--or, as Matt Yglesias points out, is able--to talk about.

P.S. The Journal's write-up of the poll offers this piece of corroborating evidence on Iraq: "[I]t is a measure of Mr. Bush's dismal standing that his best job-approval score is for handling the unpopular war in Iraq: Only 33% approve, yet that is 12 points higher than his rating for handling the economy and five points higher than his overall-job score."

--Noam Scheiber