The Note: Philly Stakes

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Another Pennsylvania poll, from Franklin & Marshall: "Clinton clung to a lead of 46 percent to 40 percent for Obama among likely Democratic voters, with 14 percent undecided. In March, Clinton led 51 percent to 35 percent," Catherine Lucey writes in the Philadelphia Daily News. "But experts said that the survey may not fully show the impact of Obama's statements last week that small-town Americans are 'bitter' over their economic status and 'cling to guns or religion.' "

It's an 11-point margin in Gallup's daily tracking, Obama 51, Clinton 40.

To date, neither the Rev. Jeremiah Wright nor the "bitter" comment has broken Obama's stride (what can slow this guy?). (Maybe people ARE bitter -- and maybe they're not digesting the rest of what Obama said.)

From the Los Angeles Times' poll write-up: "In Pennsylvania, the flap [over Wright] seems to have marginally helped Obama more than hurt him: 24% said his handling of the issue made them think more highly of him; 15% said it made them think less highly of him; 58% said it made no difference in their views."

Has "bitter" bounced Obama back, too? "Who says Pennsylvanians aren't bitter, particularly when it comes to their politics?" Brett Lieberman writes in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

"In a series of interviews with The Patriot-News this week, voters in small Pennsylvania's towns said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was dead on when he said it is understandable if many folks like them are 'bitter.' But they hold out little hope that Obama, Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton or John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, will make their lives any better."

Is Obama untouchable? "Time after time, from the beginning of the campaign to now, the media has called Obama on a 'major' gaffe or presented his reaction to an event as a 'major problem only to figure out a week later that Obama hasn't suffered a bit and Hillary Clinton numbers have dropped back down to about 40%," blogs The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.

As for the debate: "With limited opportunities to alter the direction of the race, Clinton must aim to take advantage of the spotlight and continue to cast doubt about Obama's electability in November," Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown writes. "Heading into the debate after some of the toughest weeks of his campaign, Obama will have to lure back voters who may grown uneasy with his candidacy."

"Although past one-on-one debates between the New York and Illinois senators have been virtual lovefests, the terrain is different this time because Clinton is running out of room," Carla Marinucci writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Many political observers believe she must put the pedal down hard tonight if she hopes to convince all-important superdelegates that she alone has the muscle to take the Democratic fight on to the general election."

The dust-up over the "bitter" comments "appears to have hardened the views of both candidates' supporters and stirred anxiety among many Democrats about the party's prospects in the fall," Jeff Zeleny writes in The New York Times.

"The closing week of the Democratic primary race in Pennsylvania is awash in fresh accusations of elitism and condescension. After sparring over those topics from afar, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama will come together Wednesday evening at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for their first debate in nearly two months, which will be televised nationally on ABC."

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