Is it true that Obama "should" be way more ahead than he is now?

In commenting on this set of polls that show McCain with a lead, this blog comment is typical:

This is hardly the first time this has been suggested, that given various factors (different ones almost every time: conceived media adoration, his European trip, etc.), Obama should be blowing out McCain in the polls, or at the very least have a siggnificant lead, and that the fact he isn’t is somehow significant.

My question is: is it? (Keep in mind that there’s middle ground between “extremely significant” and "not at all significant.)

The best evidence I’ve seen that Obama “should” be doing better is that his numbers vs McCain are significantly lower than the Democrats vs. the Republicans in the polls. But polls are funny things, and can easily be misinterpreted. Maybe people think Republican = Bush, and when the actual Republican isn’t Bush they think differently. And I think race plays a factor, too. If only a few percent of potential Democratic voters are hesitant to vote for a Black man, that can throw things off, too.

There’s a pretty solid partisan divide in the nation and both parties are running candidates which are viewed as appealing to the middle. So I don’t think it’s any real shock that neither candidate would break out with a massive lead. I do think the election is Obama’s to lose but the whole “How comes he ain’t leading by 30??” is a pretty silly strawman. Short of one candidate being a monster, I don’t think there’s enough space in the middle for either candidate to command a “sizable” lead for long.

30% of the people in this country approve of the job President Bush is doing. Since McCain is much more like Bush than Obama is, I think we can assume McCain’s got the “Dubya, you’re doin’ a heckuva job!” vote sewn up. That leaves 70% of the people. For Obama to be ahead at all he needs to get at least 73% of the remaining votes. He’ll have a tough row to hoe to get and stay ahead at all.

That pretty much sums it up for me.
Bill Door - I’m not so sure the same people saying Bush is doing well, constitutes 30% of McCain’s base being just given to him. I’m not sure though, I don’t know anyone who thinks he’s doing/did a good job.

By that reckoning Obama should get all the “Bush sux” votes, which is a lot bigger pot than the heck of a job one. Some in the heck of a job pool may never forgive McCain for being a maverick, and some might not like the little criticism there is. They won’t vote for Obama, but they might sit out the election. And as McCain tries to attract the Bush sux people, he might lose this set.

In short, the political winds are wildly at Obama’s back and McCain simply isn’t a great candidate. Hell, yes, Obama should be kicking ass right now.

Unfortunately, the first reason that pops to mind why this isn’t the case is the Harold Ford vs Bob Corker race. I can’t get over the feeling that race is a huge issue for many Americans, but they just don’t like to be told that it is.

This is very true. I’ve heard some very well educated people saying some very ignorant things in my day. Too many.

No, I think the “Obama should be more ahead” is mostly overanalysis, kind of a pundit-y idea that’s supposed to generate stories. The last few elections have been very close and this one is bound to be more or less in the same pattern. And despite the endless coverage I think a lot of people still haven’t taken a close look at either guy. Not everybody likes to talk about this stuff for hours a day - many of them won’t get into it until after the conventions or the debates.

Why is this a surprise at all? Obama is really liberal and nobody knows how MCcain will react day to day.
We all know this is a liberal leaning message board, and that is cool by me. You Obama fanatics really need to take the blinders off.
Obama has been moving to the center for two months now and will probably need to move closer to the center.
So, we have one person as a first term senator and a Vietnam veteran with a lot of Senate time logged in, and is looking older as the days go by.

We can’t do better than this? This really pisses me off.

I think Obama is way ahead if you simply ask people who they prefer, once you start culling the so called unlikely voters is when the polls even out.

Yes, and if you do the math, the reason they’re called unlikely voters is that past experience has shown that they’re unlikely to vote. This year they may be energized as all get out, and they may show up in huge numbers at the polls, but the same was said in 2004, and while the turnout of young voters (aged 18 to 24) in 2004 was higher than in 2000, it was 44% turnout for males and 50% turnout for females.

This compares to 68% of male citizens 25 and older and 65% of females 25 and older who voted. Cite. 53% of the voters 18 to 24 stayed home. I’m not impressed by those numbers. They’ll have to start showing up before I start counting on them.

At least a part of the premise is flawed. Obama has received more coverage than McCain, yes. But the vast majority of it has not been positive. There is no “media adoration” (though you might have meant perceived rather than conceived). The LA Times reports that 72% of media coverage of Obama, according to The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University in a recent study, has been negative.

That’s not what the report says. The 72% does not correspond to “media coverage”, but only to the coverage when a reporter offers an opinion-- which only happens rarely. The “vast majority” of the coverage has been neutral. Per your cite:

As an outsider, I suspect that race is a big issue for many people – and it cuts both ways.

First, I think there’s a generation divide: young people have grown up with a more positive image of black peoiple as TV and rock stars, and Barack Obama fits comfortably into that mould. I’m not saying all older peoiple are racists – just that there is a significant difference between the generations.

Second, there’s a north-south divide, with the north more likely to accept a black candidate. What is interesting is how well Obama is doing in border states, such as Virginia and Indiana (yes, Indiana is in many ways part of the cultural south), but not in the deep south. And oddly the deep south seems to include Kentucky and West Virginia these days, going on the Democrat primaries.

Is Obama the most liberal person in the Senate?


Everybody’s heard the whole idea that the Republican “brand” is damaged, right? People are saying that Obama should be way ahead as a result, but that strikes me as the kind of idea that should help him in November but would not show up as much in the polls now, when the election is three months away and not everybody is tuning in yet.

If I may suggest, the “Bush sux” people are tangled up with the “government sux” and “life sux” people, and as such are too indifferent to and contemptuous of the process to be counted on to vote in large numbers. Otherwise, President Kerry would now be seeking his second term.

What, the skinniest guy at fat camp?

I’m fairly certain Bernie Sanders merits that distinction.

Shh! Shut up, you’ll ruin it! He’s regurgitating Clothahump-style talking points. I wanted to see if he’d go all the way to purely pre-fabricated thinking.