When it comes to the polls, likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has a slight lead in support – if Election Day were held Monday instead of five months from now.
The Gallup Organization’s daily tracking poll shows Obama with a 46 percent to 42 percent lead over Republican opponent John McCain, which is not insurmountable since 12 percent remain undecided and could easily put McCain over the top. It’s not like Obama is taking a majority of the country by storm.
OR IS HE?
What intrigued me was the “other” poll done by Gallup. They did a survey of potential voters (822 people from across the country represent the views of all of the United States of America) asking them not who they would vote for, but who they think will win.
In short, who do you think everybody else is going to vote for?
To that question, Obama whomped on McCain – by a 52 percent to 41 percent tally. Seven percent of the “American people” remain like me – confused, and unsure how this election cycle is going to pan out.
GALLUP NOTES THAT 76 percent of all people who identify themselves as Democrats think Obama is a winner come Nov. 4, compared to only 67 percent of self-identified Republicans who will say they think McCain can win in November.
What helps Obama, Gallup notes, is that half of people who use the political label of “independent” say they think Barack is a winner, compared to only 41 percent who think McCain can succeed.
So what does all this mean?
It is early in the campaign season. Despite all the political rhetoric being passed about these days, serious campaign activity doesn’t really get underway until after the presidential nominating conventions in Denver and St. Paul, Minn. The Labor Day holiday weekend is the time when hard-core activity will commence.
MY POINT IS that it is still early. There is still plenty of time for both candidates to “say something stupid” that changes the public perception.
But the people who are trying to pass the rhetoric that Obama is a “terrible” nominee who has nothing in common with the “American people” need to quit spewing the political equivalent of flatulence. The “people” aren’t buying it.
There is a good chunk of the populace that can accept the idea of a “President Obama.” Either that, or they are accepting the inevitability of a concept they detest – this same Gallup survey shows more than one-quarter of the Republican portion of the electorate saying an Obama presidency is possible.
We shouldn’t underestimate the latter idea – people accepting that something “horrible” such as an Obama victory can occur. They are the ones whose activity needs to be watched during the campaign season, because they are the ones who are most likely to try the extreme activity out of some belief that they need to “take down” an Obama candidacy on Nov. 4.
I’M SURE IT also helps Obama that President George W. Bush is seeing his presidency sink. A separate Gallup poll released Monday showed him with only a 30 percent “favorable” rating, and the Republican-controlled Supreme Court with only a 48 percent “favorable” rating. Even Jimmy Carter of 1980 never sank that low in the disgust with which the “American people” regarded him.
It also is why the Obama campaign ought to be using this “down time” between now and the nominating conventions to try to shore up their base of support. Trying to appease some of the women who legitimately wanted Hillary Clinton to get the presidential nomination ought to be (and appears to be) a priority.
I personally got a kick out of learning that Patty Solis Doyle, the sister of a Chicago alderman who once was Clinton’s campaign manager, is now working for Obama.
She was given the title of chief of staff to the vice president, which I find amusing since there technically is no vice president yet – Obama has not named anyone to run with him on a Democratic Party ticket, and in fact is still looking for a replacement for Jim Johnson, the Fannie Mae executive who was going to help find a running mate but had to resign his campaign post after it became public knowledge that he received favorable rates on his personal mortgage.
BUT HAVING SOLIS achieves three goals – it shows that Obama is willing to accept a high-placed Clinton ally in his inner circle, is willing to have women in significant positions of his campaign and is a Latina.
Her connections with Hispanic pols in Chicago will carry over into trying to persuade a number of skeptical Latinos that they are better off voting for Obama on Nov. 4, instead of staying at home and voting for nobody as a form of political protest.
Heck, Obama could have exploited Solis’ dismissal from the Clinton campaign earlier this year to try to gain Latino voter support – if he hadn’t had a campaign that at times appeared to be so timid in trying to gain the support of Hispanic people.
That timidity is the exact opposite of the gregarious nature that has inspired the youth of this country to think Obama is a candidate for political sainthood (no government official, in my opinion, deserves to be regarded that highly).
BUT THERE IS time for Obama to overcome this flaw. He has the advantage of coming out of his primary fight with Clinton somewhat bruised, but more experienced in the ways of a rough-and-tumble campaign.
And he didn’t muddy himself up so much in defeating Clinton that he is permanently stained, which likely would have been the case if he had run the crushing campaign that would have knocked her out of the box two months sooner.
So for the time being, Obama gets the aura of being a “winner.” People are starting to accept the notion that perhaps, a bi-racial man whose life would have been the ultimate in fairy tales a generation ago could someday be the Leader of the Free World.
IN FACT, THERE is one bit of evidence that Obama has a chance to win the Nov. 4 election, and it goes beyond the latest Gallup poll. Obama now has all the political geeks of the Democratic Party who were hesitant to say anything before now crawling out of the woodwork to give the impression that they were always captivated by the spirit of Obama-mania.
How else to explain the fact that former Vice President Al Gore on Monday came out in support of Obama? He only waited until about two weeks after the rest of the country accepted that Obama would be the Democratic nominee before saying he, too, would Back Barack.
Trust me when I say that if Obama had the stink of a loser clinging to him, there’s no way Gore would have come out and said a word. Not now, not ever. Instead of sharing his aura (largely from his recent Nobel Prize) with Obama, he’d be keeping it all to himself.
EDITOR’S NOTES: East, Midwest, South and West. Women and men. Old and young. They all seem to think (http://www.gallup.com/poll/107995/Americans-Predict-Obama-Will-Next-US-President.aspx) Obama can win Nov. 4. In fact, the young are among the most skeptical (only 48 percent think Obama will win, compared to 45 percent for McCain).
Did Patty Solis Doyle, by accepting a high-ranking post within the Obama campaign (http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/06/16/clinton_insiders_take_umbrage.html?hpid=topnews), ensure she won’t be on the Clinton Christmas card list in the future?
Gee. Even Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., committed to Obama long before former Vice President (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/gore-to-appear-with-obama/) Al Gore did.