August 2, 2008


An Unstable Presidential Campaign (Michael Barone, 8/02/08, Real Clear Politics)

Obama appears to have a small lead. But he doesn't come close to maximizing the Democratic vote. And there is some evidence that the balance of enthusiasm has shifted and that young people -- who seemed to turn out and vote for Obama in unusually high numbers in the primaries and caucuses -- are no long so enthusiastic about him.

The first bit of evidence comes from the July 10-13 ABC/Washington Post poll. It asked registered voters if they were "certain" to vote. Only 46 percent of voters under 30 said they were -- substantially lower than the 66 percent who said so in the ABC/Washington Post poll taken Feb. 28-March 2, at a time when Obama was enjoying a string of primary and caucus victories and before the sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright were circulated on on March 13. The 46 percent of young voters saying in July they were certain to vote was far lower than the 79 percent of 65 and over voters who said they were.

The second bit of evidence comes from the Gallup/USAToday poll taken July 25-27. This poll showed that when you narrowed the base of respondents down from registered voters to likely voters, John McCain was ahead 49 percent to 45 percent. That's a vivid contrast from the contemporaneous Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls, and it was the first national poll since May showing McCain ahead.

The Gallup/USAT poll employs an unusual technique to decide who is a likely voter, and accordingly its results tend to vary more widely than other polls; political insiders tend to take its numbers seriously less as an indication of where the race is than as an indication of which candidate is benefiting, at least for a moment, from the balance of enthusiasm.

Did anyone outside the Obama camp ever take seriously the notion that you can build an electoral majority on the support of people who don't vote?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 2, 2008 7:45 AM

Well, they gambled and thought that his European tour would help.

Posted by: pchuck at August 2, 2008 10:00 AM
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