Obama has a slight numerical lead — within sampling tolerances — among African-Americans, and comes close to Clinton among liberals, both core Democratic groups. Obama runs evenly with Clinton, moreover, among college-educated leaned Democrats — and education is a strong predictor of voting.
Clinton has her biggest leads among low-income and low-education groups — not the most reliable voters — and conservatives — not a big group in the Democratic Party. But she also leads particularly among mainline Democrats, 50 percent to 31 percent, as opposed to Democratic-leaning independents; and among seniors, who do tend to turn out.
Obama is much more competitive among independents who lean Democratic, a group that can be difficult to get to the polls in primaries — with the notable exception of the New Hampshire primary.
EDWARDS — Edwards' support profile, while fairly flat and barely in the double digits, does include some differences. He does more than twice as well among men as women — 18 percent support vs. seven percent — possibly a reason his wife has been touting his credentials on women's issues.
Despite a populist campaign message based on economic justice, his support is numerically lowest — single digits — among lower-income Democrats, young adults and blacks.
Edwards does not crack into second place in any individual group, though he essentially ties Obama among married men — 20 percent for Edwards, 23 percent for Obama, and 44 percent for Clinton.
COMFORT — Clinton would make history as the first woman presidential nominee, Obama as the first African-American. Most Americans are at least somewhat comfortable with that: Eighty-six percent describe themselves as entirely or somewhat comfortable with an African-American president, 79 percent with a woman president.
There are slight partisan differences on a black president, but bigger ones on the notion of a woman president.
While 89 percent of Democrats describe themselves as comfortable with a woman president, that falls to 62 percent of Republicans, mainly because it's just 54 percent among conservative Republicans. They may be thinking specifically about Clinton, who, for years has been particularly unpopular among conservative Republicans.
It's noteworthy that while substantial numbers of Americans say they'd be at least somewhat comfortable with a black or woman president — or Hispanic at 74 percent — considerably fewer would be "entirely" comfortable with any of these — 56 percent, 54 percent and 44 percent respectively. Should either current Democratic front-runner win the nomination, the dynamics of race and sex could prove critical in the general election ahead.
METHODOLOGY — This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 18 to 21, 2007, among a random national sample of 1,125 adults. Additional interviews were conducted with an oversample of randomly selected African-Americans for a total of 210 black respondents.
The results have a three-point error margin for the full sample and four points for the sample of 606 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.