Bitter aftertaste: A host of new polls have been released since Obama's "bitter" remarks in San Francisco. Gallup has him maintaining his commanding lead nationally over Hillary Clinton (51 percent to 40 percent). SurveyUSA shows that if the Pennsylvania primary were held today, Hillary would wallop Barack by double digits. Quinnipac University concludes that Obama's traction in Pennsylvania has been halted (Clinton leads him 50 percent to 44 percent), with no noticeable change in his favor since its April 8 poll. However, one-fourth of the state's Clinton supporters say they'd back John McCain if Obama were the nominee.
Responding to the Gallup poll, Andrew Sullivan wonders if it was taken too soon after the "bitter" comments: "Sometimes it takes a while for an event to permeate and be absorbed by voters. Clinton, for example, just began using the Obama comments in a negative ad yesterday. That could amplify the impact." But, assessing an America Research Poll that finds Clinton leading Obama in Pennsylvania by 11 points, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air concludes: "Prior to calling small-town middle America a bunch of xenophobic bigots who cling to guns and religion out of economic bitterness, Obama had made headway in taking those voters away from Hillary Clinton. He had succeeded in convincing them that Hillary was trying to destroy the Democratic party by creating unnecessary divisions. His sop to the Frisco liberal elite has completely undermined that argument and left him vulnerable once again to the overall electability counterargument."
At Below the Beltway Doug Mataconis says: "Clinton needs a big win in Pennsylvania to maintain a credible campaign. If she has a small win and then loses big in North Carolina and Indiana two weeks later, then the logic for continuing becomes harder to accept. If by some chance she loses Pennsylvania, then the race is over and she just needs to accept it." Justin Gardner at Donklephant concurs and concludes, "But just because it should be [over] doesn't mean Hillary won't take this thing to the convention … which is seeming more and more likely as the days go by. I think her campaign honestly believes that Obama can't win it in the Fall so they'll continue to bloody him up until he's actually as unelectable as they think he is."
Joe Gandelman at the Moderate Voice writes of the Quinnipac study: "What's shaping up: the increasing likelihood that John McCain—still is a strong 'brand name' among Democrats and independents for his past history of independence from his party line on many issues—will benefit from a large chunk of Democratic voters or stay-home Democrats as he continues to rally his party's base."
Read more about the latest polls. In Slate, "Election Scorecard" analyzes the latest data, and our delegate calculator lets you figure out Clinton's odds. John Dickerson analyzes Hillary's response ad.
All dressed up and no one to meet: All major Israeli politicians from the prime minister to the opposition leader have declined to meet with Jimmy Carter on his planned a tour of the Holy Land, which includes a controversial meeting with Khalid Mashaal, the political head of Hamas, in Damascus later in the week. The U.S. State Department and all three presidential candidates have rebuked Carter for his upcoming kibitz with the terrorist organization.
Marty Peretz at the New Republic's Spine slams Carter: "According to the Associated Press, the former president was welcomed in Ramallah by one Hamas official, Nasser al-Shaer. Jimmy Carter executed the two kiss ritual, one on each cheek. This is not lust in the heart. This is mischief in the brain, as only Carter can do mischief."
Rootless Cosmopolitan Tony Karon applauds Carter, adding: "I'd say Carter has reason to suspect that despite the pro-forma criticisms of his Meshal meeting from Secretary of State Condi Rice as well as the McCain-Clinton-Obama roadshow, the backlash won't be anything like the firestorm created by his apartheid book."
Commentary's Abe Greenwald laughs at Carter's self-portrayal as a "private citizen," noting he's been granted access to places, like Arafat's tomb, that no private citizen would be: "He's just Joe Sixpack on vacation. It's not as if he'll be a keynote speaker at the 2008 Democratic convention or anything. If he was, he could work wonders. Not only does his family respect Arafat—Carter says they like Obama, too. A regular guy who's able to do so much could really sway people with an endorsement like that."
Meanwhile, Meryl Yourish plucks this chestnut from an interview Carter gave with Ha'aretz: "In a democracy, I realize that you don't need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels. When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people. But in a democracy like Israel, there is a wide range of opinions and that counterbalances the disappointment that I have in not meeting with the people shaping Israeli power now in the government." To which Yourish replies: "Did he really just say that he doesn't have to talk to people in a dictatorship because their opinions don't count? That explains completely how he can hobnob with dictators and think so highly of them. That explains a whole lot, actually. Either that, or the man is going senile."
Read more about Carter's trip.