Maverick is Down!


The Los Angeles Times is out with its latest presidential poll. Your frontrunner:

The gritty details:

In a two-man race between the major party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll conducted last weekend.

Obama's advantage, bigger in this poll than in most other national surveys, appears to stem in large part from his positions on domestic issues. Both Democrats and independent voters say Obama would do a better job than McCain at handling the nation's economic problems, the public's top concern.

In contrast, many voters give McCain credit as the more experienced candidate and the one best equipped to protect the nation against terrorism—but they rank those concerns below their worries about the economy.

Moreover, McCain suffers from a pronounced "enthusiasm gap," especially among the conservatives who usually give Republican candidates a reliable base of support. Among voters who describe themselves as conservative, only 58% say they will vote for McCain; 15% say they will vote for Obama, 14% say they will vote for someone else, and 13% say they are undecided.

By contrast, 79% of voters who describe themselves as liberal say they plan to vote for Obama.

Nothing surprising there. More surprising, at first blush:

On a four-man ballot including independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr, voters chose Obama over McCain by an even larger margin, 48% to 33%.

The paper doesn't release the exact numbers yet, so I don't know which of the two spoilers polls higher, but that's 4 points they take from McCain and only 1 from Obama. "When Nader and Barr are added to the ballot, they draw most of their support from voters who said they would otherwise vote for the Republican," reports the paper.

Why this doesn't surprise me, the more I think about it: The country desperately wants a Democratic president at the moment. Republicans acknowledge this. The honest ones argue that their best chance at winning is making Obama so weird and treasonous-seeming that swing voters can't pull the lever for him. That strategy, of course, fails to assuage doubts about McCain. As he fails to differentiate himself from the GOP brand, those alienated voters look elsewhere on the ballot.