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Posted by on Jun 18, 2008 in Politics | 8 comments

“Danger Signs” for Obama? (No.)

ABC News’s Jake Tapper suggests that Obama’s 6-point lead over McCain (48-42) in a recent poll is actually “a surprisingly small lead considering that the incumbent Republican president George Bush is at record lows and public opinion overwhelmingly feels the country is on the ‘wrong track’.” He argues that Obama has not received much of a “bounce” from his victory over Hillary and that there is still “resistance from Clinton supporters.”

I don’t buy it.

First, I think Obama is right that McCain has essentially gotten “a pass” from the media — a free pass, that is. He hasn’t yet been subjected to rigorous media scrutiny and he’s still benefitting from his mythical maverick image.

Second, I don’t think Obama could have expected all that much of a bounce from his victory over Hillary. It was a long and sometimes bitter race. Obama was tested by it but also weakened — Hillary’s desperate “kitchen sink” smear campaign didn’t exactly help Obama (although he may actually benefit in the long run from having so much negativity exposed early on). And some of Hillary’s more ardent supporters remain bitter. (Yes, many of them will come around, but it’ll take some time.)

Third, Obama is actually doing very well in the polls. Given McCain’s free pass, the negative campaign to which Obama was subjected, and the lingering bitterness of many of Hillary’s supporters, a 6-point lead nationally is a lot. (It’s more of a lead than Bush ever had over Kerry.) Plus, a new poll in Ohio has Obama up by 11 points — see Kos’s analysis — while a new poll in North Carolina, a traditionally Republican state, has him down by just 4 points (again, see Kos’s analysis).

And, as Kos puts it, “Obama still has room to grow as he continues rallying the Democratic Party behind him” — both in Ohio and throughout the rest of the country.

To quote Nate Silver at The Plank, Obama is “still bouncing” — and, going forward, once the general election campaign gets underway in earnest, his continuing bounce could become far more pronounced.


More from Silver (whose analysis is consistently excellent):

[A] series of new polls from Quinnipiac. In Pennsylvania, Obama leads by 12 points — up from 6 last month. His Ohio lead is 6 points — he had trailed McCain by 4 points before. And then there is Florida, where Quinnipiac has Obama ahead by 4 points. Barack Obama has never before led a Florida poll — not against John McCain, nor against Hillary Clinton — so this is something of a watershed moment.

If Florida is in play, then John McCain’s defense is completely broken; it was the one traditional swing state that always had looked off-limits to Obama. More frustratingly for McCain, he had spent the better part of three days in Florida earlier this month, hoping to raise doubts about Obama among Jewish voters. Although Quinnipiac does not break out the Jewish vote, Obama holds a 61-31 lead in Southeast Florida, where most of the state’s Jewish population is concentrated.

Obama’s surprisingly strong lead in Ohio isn’t any better news for McCain. As recently as a week ago, McCain’s strategy seemed pretty simple: target Ohio and Michigan, and hope to win one if not both. But now, Ohio looks tough for him, and even if McCain can steal Michigan, Obama has so many other places he can pick up electoral votes — Virginia, the Mountain West, Iowa, Missouri and now possibly Florida — that McCain would still have trouble winning a close election.

Obama’s lead nationally is still relatively small — we have it at somewhere between 4 and 5 points — but looks to be an unusually robust one in terms of the Electoral College.

So, it seems, based on the polls, Obama is doing extremely well. (And, what’s more, he seems to be doing well among likely voters (not just registered ones), which suggests, as TNR’s Noam Scheiber points out, that he could win the turnout battle in November.)

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • Silhouette

    Newsflash. At the stroke of midnight just after the official nomination of Barack Obama as democrat nominee, the press will turn on Obama precisely and calculatedly as it did Hillary Clinton…while Obama watched smiling, enjoying his own version of the press “free pass”.

    It was precisely when I noticed Big Media (GOP owned and operated dontcha’ know) was handling Obama with kid gloves in preference over Clinton. I began noticing, day by day, in astonishment, blatantly sexist comments, whose racial equivalents would’ve surely gotten anchors an instant pink slip, spewed forth day after endless day; all without Obama making a peep in protest.

    In fact, the GOP strategists know an unqualified and easily-beatable candidate. That’s why they helped promote Obama over their arch (and feared) enemy Hillary Clinton.

    When you watch any mainstream media outlet bear in the front of your mind that anchors meet in staff meetings daily and are “told” which angle to pitch when, and how. Know that polls are skewed to favor the strategy of the day. Know that the downplay of Clinton’s homestretch landslide victories in the primaries went with nary a comment for a damn good reason: They didn’t want people noticing that the trend of democratic constituents was towards sending a message to the GOP/Press and their media darling Obama, “Hey, we’re not dumb and we’ve changed our minds.”

    Now hand-selected superdelegates are telling us how it will be in August.

    Can anyone say “corruption”? It doesn’t just happen abroad folks.

  • mlhradio

    I think this falls into the “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” category — we can all pull out whatever stats and polls and analyses we want to support any position we want. It’s been ten days since Clinton was rightfully brushed aside into the dustbin of history, and we’re already worrying about the size of a “bounce”. I guess it’s a casualty of our short attention spans and the ever-evolving 24-hour news cycle.

    Looking for a bounce? Just check out the latest polls out this week, showing Obama up 11 in Ohio (yesterday, PPP), up 12 in Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac, today), up 4 in Florida (first time he’s led there ever). Nate over at 538 has a quick summary of recent polls and how they have changed over the last month:

    State May June Change
    AR Rasmussen -24 -9 +15
    KY SurveyUSA -24 -12 +12
    OH Quinnipiac -4 +6 +10
    KS Rasmussen -19 -10 +9
    FL Quinnipiac -4 +4 +8
    NY Siena +11 +18 +7
    WA Rasmussen +11 +18 +7
    PA Quinnipaic +6 +12 +6
    WI Rasmussen -4 +2 +6
    IA Rasmussen +2 +7 +5
    VA Rasmussen -3 +1 +4
    MI Rasmussen -1 +3 +4
    WA SurveyUSA +14* +17 +3
    NC Rasmussen -3 -2 +1
    NC Civitas -5 -4 +1
    MN Rasmussen +15 +13 -2
    MN SurveyUSA +5 +1 -4
    OR Rasmussen +14 +8 -6
    AVERAGE -0.7 +4.7 +5.4
    * Average of two May surveys.

  • runasim

    I’m not sure how much these polls can be relied on to predict Nov. results.
    Considering the kind of smears thrown at him (first by Hillaty, and now by the Right Wing+ spiteful Hillary fans) , it’s to his credit that he has any lead at all.
    How can he respond to: “If Obama is elected,, will it still be the WHITE House?”

    I agree that McCain has benefitted from a lack of attention. Even now, coverage consists almost entirely of brainless repetition of whatever he claims about Obama, almost never followed by the kind of ‘analysis’ .that follows anything said by Obama.
    I’m listeneing to NPR as I write this, and it’s anotehr case of: (1) McCain said this and (2) Obama said that, but what do Republicans take this to mean?
    He’s scrutinized up to and including every hair on his head.

    One thing I’m glad about, and that is the fact Cindy’s past personal troubles have not been used against her, no matter how tempting that might be.
    Somebody has to leave the kitchen sink in the kitchen.

  • aba23


  • Silhouette


  • Silhouette

    I was thinking of strolling down to our local tavern and doing a fair poll of all the patrons there about how many of them support drinking alcohol on a daily basis.

    Then I will entitle my poll something like “95% of local people polled think drinking daily is OK.”

    Technically I won’t be lying.

    See? It’s easy, and fun!

  • jchem


    Seems pretty obvious that you’re not happy about Clinton losing. I don’t blame you. But you really need to articulate why Obama is so bad. Do you honestly think that he can’t win in November? Do you really think that Hillary would have won? I’ve heard it said many times that the Democrats always find a way to lose when they are supposed to win. How would you feel about a President McCain in ’08? Given the number of SC justices who are ready to retire, are you really willing to allow 4 years to someone who pledged to put more people like Roberts and Alito to the bench? I don’t want to sound rude, but I’m just trying to ask honest questions. What’s your beef with Obama? I’ve seen your posts now for a little while, but all I get is a bunch of excuses to why Hillary didn’t win. Perhaps you should try to start telling the audience why Obama won…and blaming it all on the media isn’t going to help.

  • JSpencer

    jchem, those are good and fair questions. I believe when the disappointed Hillary folks have had enough time to heal and think things through, they will realize supporting Sen. Obama is their only conscionable bet. Granted, this may take awhile, but I have faith they will buck up when necessary. As for the polls, I see little reason to expect McCain will be able to close even this modest gap. I think he will peak early (maybe he already has) and start sliding from there.

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