The center's stated goals are to "improve the socioeconomic status of black Americans and other minorities." He said whether black candidates are electable depends more on the candidate than the public.
Can Obama win?
"In terms of running for president, getting enough electoral votes to win: Yes," Bositis said.
In a handful of other states, such as Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana, though, Bositis said the chances wouldn't be as good.
He noted that in the Illinois race for Senate, Obama won a majority of the vote in a field of multiple candidates, including some who were better funded.
Democrats have long been losing much of the South, he noted.
"It's going to take him actually getting into the primary to see what kind of reaction he causes in terms of voters," Bositis said. "Does he have the potential to win? Yes. He has a lot of positive things going for him."
Luntz, the Republican pollster, noted that Democrats have long been losing much of the South.
"If Democrats are winning South Carolina, then they're winning in 50 states. There's one state that matters. And that's Ohio. Ohio is a microcosm of America," Luntz said.
Rothenberg said neither Obama nor Clinton face the uphill hurdle ahead of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon whose religion has become the source of debate among the conservative Christian wing of the party.
"I think if we're talking about religion, gender and race, discreet and separate qualities that could affect a candidate's electability, I actually think Romney's Mormonism is the biggest problem, because it affects him with the base," Rothenberg said.