On the eve of their big Democratic unity rally in New Hampshire, a new poll released this afternoon suggests that Barack Obama is winning over Hillary Clinton's former supporters.
The Associated Press-Yahoo News poll found 53 percent of the Democrats who favored Clinton for the nomination two months ago now back Obama for president. That's an improvement from April, when only 40 percent of Clinton supporters said they would back Obama over Republican John McCain.
That means, however, that nearly half of Clinton loyalists are still not firmly in Obama's fold about four months from Election Day.
The poll suggests that time is beginning to heal some rifts from the primary campaign and that the New York senator's endorsement of Obama carried weight. The poll was taken in the days after Clinton suspended her campaign on June 7 and said she fully supported her rival.
Clinton promoted Obama before two trade groups today before an evening meeting to introduce Obama to her most loyal fund-raisers.
"I am asking you to do everything you can to help elect Barack Obama," Clinton told the American Nurses Association, a 2.9-million member group that backed her candidacy, the Associated Press reported. "I have debated him in more debates than I can remember and I have seen his passion and his determination and his grit and his grace. In his own life he has lived the American dream."
That backing, after an at times bitter primary fight, will symbolically culminate in the rally Friday in the aptly named Unity, N.H.
UPDATE: Appearing in New Hampshire today, Obama's wife Michelle credited Clinton with bringing the concerns of working families to the forefront of the presidential campaign, the Associated Press reported.
"We are closer to this America than ever before, and that's because of an extraordinary woman who's not in this room but she's traveling with my husband tomorrow, and that woman is Hillary Clinton," Obama said to sustained applause, according to the AP. "I know that the folks here in New Hampshire know this better than anyone because you got to know the candidates up close and personal, but because of Hillary Clinton's work the issues of importance to women and working families are front and center."
In advance of the rally, McCain's campaign held a conference call today to highlight his record of bipartisanship, and announced the New Hampshire leaders of Citizens for McCain, a grassroots group reaching out to Democrats and independents.
"This is the most important job in the world. We need a leader of proven competence, tested judgment and substantial experience in the modern world and, obviously, that is John McCain," said Democrat Jim McConaha of Concord, named co-chairman of "New Hampshire Democrats for McCain" and an appointee under former President Bill Clinton and Governor Jeanne Shaheen.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.