Ever since Barack Obama and his army of hope-mongering sexists bounced Hillary Clinton from the presidential race, there's been a meme on the right half of the blogosphere about his "bounce." That is, he didn't get one. Robert Stacy McCain, who links to some of the other commentary:
What is important here is what has not happened. The electorate's putative hunger for "change," which was the entire rationale of the Obama insurgency, has not been reflected in a post-primary surge of support toward the presumptive Democratic nominee.
RedState's Pejman Yousefzadeh walks some of the same territory, but I think the meme is wrong—another bit of substance-free magical thinking that doesn't address Obama's strengths or McCain's problems. (To be clear, there's a massive difference between buying conspiracy theories and selectively reading polls, and Yousefzadeh is not, nor has he ever, done the former.) For starters, most of the chatter focuses on the Gallup tracking poll, a lousy measure of strength in a 50-state electoral college battle. (It would mean something if one candidate scored a 15- or 20-point lead, but 2-3 point fluctuations don't mean much.) Noam Scheiber does some work on how to read those polls, but I'm paying more attention to the state polls that show 1) Obama winning back Clinton voters and 2) McCain battling where he should be safe.
Today, we have the Quinnipiac poll of battleground states, three surveys that show an Obama surge since last month. McCain used to lead Obama in Florida and Ohio by 4 points. Now he trails in Florida by 4 and Ohio by 6. Obama used to lead in Pennsylvania by 6 points; it's up to 12 points.
If every state voted the way it did in 2004 but the GOP lost Ohio and Florida, Obama would win by 60 electoral votes. And yet, and yet… McCain is shedding Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado from the GOP coalition. He's fallen from a 34-point lead in Kentucky (one of Obama's worst states) to a 12-point lead, which says worrisome things about the fealty of Appalachian voters. In Alaska, the sleeper state that apparently only I think McCain could lose, he's down to 45 percent of the vote with 7 percent going to "other" and 41 percent to Obama.
There's another surprising Obama-McCain poll today from ABC News, about the candidates' wives. Michelle Obama has a 48/29 favorable/unfavorable rating, compared to 36/23 for Cindy McCain. For comparison, I checked how Michelle Obama compared to the mid-1992 poll numbers for Hillary Clinton.
A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll late [in April] found only 36% of voters had a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton and 40% had an unfavorable opinion. More than 80% of those polled had a good opinion of [First Lady Barbara Bush].
Basically, poll after poll shows Obama relatively stronger than Gore or Kerry was at this point in their races. He can still lose! But Republicans aren't going to will it to be so by checking one poll and squinting really hard.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.