Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama Polling Bump Collapses in New Survey

St. Barack

Captain Ed's got an interesting essay on the latest results from Newsweek's presidential polling, which finds Barack Obama statistically tied with GOP nominee John McCain (at 44 percent to 41 percent):

Last month, Newsweek’s poll surprised many by showing a huge gap between Barack Obama and John McCain, with the Democratic nominee-apparent enjoying a 15-point lead over the Republican. One month later, Obama has lost all of the momentum and has dropped into a virtual tie with McCain. The latest Newsweek poll shows Obama up 44-41, within the margin of error:

A month after emerging victorious from the bruising Democratic nominating contest, some of Barack Obama’s glow may be fading. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the Illinois senator leads Republican nominee John McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The statistical dead heat is a marked change from last month’s NEWSWEEK Poll, where Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent.

Obama’s rapid drop comes at a strategically challenging moment for the Democratic candidate. Having vanquished Hillary Clinton in early June, Obama quickly went about repositioning himself for a general-election audience–an unpleasant task for any nominee emerging from the pander-heavy primary contests and particularly for a candidate who’d slogged through a vigorous primary challenge in most every contest from January until June. Obama’s reversal on FISA legislation, his support of faith-based initiatives and his decision to opt out of the campaign public-financing system left him open to charges he was a flip-flopper. In the new poll, 53 percent of voters (and 50 percent of former Hillary Clinton supporters) believe that Obama has changed his position on key issues in order to gain political advantage.

More seriously, some Obama supporters worry that the spectacle of their candidate eagerly embracing his old rival, Hillary Clinton, and traveling the country courting big donors at lavish fund-raisers, may have done lasting damage to his image as an arbiter of a new kind of politics. This is a major concern since Obama’s outsider credentials, have, in the past, played a large part in his appeal to moderate, swing voters.

See the post for additional analysis, especially Newsweek's sampling record as an extreme outlier.

What interests me is the reaction among the netroots base of the Democratic Party. As I noted yesterday, the far-left hordes will turn up their noses at Obama's alleged FISA capitulation, but they'll ultimately be lining up behind the Illinois Senator faster than you can say "regime change."

Far-left blogger Mike Stark, who earned
a notorious netroots reputation by stalking Bill O'Reilly at his home, argued today that Obama still deserved "progressive" support after the hard-left's congressional defeat on domestic surveillance:
From the moment George W. Bush took office and ripped this country to the right, Democrats in Congress ran after him like abandoned puppies afraid of being left alone in a dark house. They gave him extreme tax cuts for the wealthy, backed his rush to war, enacted draconian bankruptcy reform legislation and stood by meekly (or actively helped) as he trampled civil liberties and the Bill of Rights.

The Democratic establishment should have learned that we need a Democratic Party that will draw clear distinctions between itself and the Republicans, but it has not. Political cynicism on the left is growing, and with good reason. We won both houses of Congress back in 2006, but we've seen almost nothing change. Most recently, a bipartisan coalition -- which included Barack Obama -- voted to subvert justice by granting the telecom special interests retroactive immunity for lawlessly spying on Americans. (It's worth noting that the capitulating House Democrats received over twice the telecom campaign contributions that their constitutional stalwart colleagues did.) ....

As I write, there are early reports that Obama's June fundraising totals were disappointing. (There is no official confirmation yet.) The Obama campaign is denying a
Wall Street Journal report about this, but the Washington Post also reports that his Internet fundraising is off. Much has been made of the small-donor base Obama cultivated so assiduously. Could it be that a drought of progressive enthusiasm based on his FISA flip stunted his crop last month?
Actually, the main reason Obama's fundraising has dried up is that he's having a hard time winning over former Hillary Clinton supporters precisely as his "movement" groupies have maxed themselves out (in fact, 115 deep-pocket Clinton donors made big contributions to John McCain after Obama wrapped-up the nomination, and the intra-party divisions remain deep and lasting).

Larry Johnson puts it:

What do you do after you have tapped out your own true believers? Who is left? I count at least four categories of potential donors–Hillary supporters, those who wanted other democrats besides Hillary and Obama, uncommitted independents, and disaffected Republicans. It stands to reason then that Obama must reach out to these folks. He needs to make nice. So what is he doing?

Not too good. He fell far short of his fundraising goals for the second quarter. He’s down according to some sources by more than 70%. So who is responsible for this brewing debacle? Hillary of course. Obama and his posse are blaming Hillary for his fundraising woes and–surprise, surprise–scapegoating Hillary for his own failings. The man is a putz.
Obama may be a putz, but the fact is the bloom is off the rose of his post-nomination boost in the polls.

Zogby's now reporting that McCain leads Obama in Florida, and Gallup also saw a tightening this week in the national surveys.

Obama's residual radicalism and his ties to
the far-left nihilist base will be his biggest liabilities going forward. Obama needs to tack to the center, of course, but the more he renounces his past positions across a range of traditionally left-wing policies, the more vulnerable he'll become as a run-of-the-mill machine politician eager to pander to the largest voting constituency of the moment.

Photo Credit: "
St. Barack of Chicago."