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Thread: Barack Obama holds lead, but will race tighten?

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    Default Barack Obama holds lead, but will race tighten?

    Obama holds lead, but will race tighten? - Yahoo! News

    For the past four weeks, Barack Obama has held a consistent lead over John McCain in the polls. This morning, the Illinois senator is up by 5.9 points on the Yahoo! News dashboard, based on Real Clear Politics poll averages.
    Nevertheless, a lot of people in the political world are waiting for Obama's poll lead to shrink. Any movement in the polls could be a sign. An example: his poll average is down about 2 points after leading by 8 points just last week. Headlines began cropping up "Is McCain narrowing the gap?"
    Even with that small shift in the poll averages, today's numbers don't show major movement. Obama's lead is holding at +4 points, +8 points, +9 points, and +7/+10 points, depending on which poll you consult. Only one poll in Real Clear Politics average has John McCain neck-and-neck, with Obama ahead by just one point.
    With these relatively stable numbers, why is it that many pundits are now asking, even anticipating: When will the lead start to shrink?

    Because -- if history is a guide -- it definitely could.

    We talked to the Editor in Chief of the Gallup Poll, Frank Newport, who gave us some examples of previous presidential polls that showed a candidate with a significant poll deficit closing drastically in the last weeks of a campaign.

    In 1992, Newport says, Bill Clinton had a double-digit lead in the Gallup Poll in mid-October, but beat George H.W. Bush by only 5 points. Further back, Richard Nixon led Hubert Humphrey by similar margins and ended up winning by less than 1%.
    Newport also gives late poll changes partial credit for the infamous "Dewey defeats Truman." (The Chicago Tribune notes, at the time "radio comedian Fred Allen noted Truman was the 'first president to lose in a Gallup and win in a walk.')

    Dewey Defeats Truman

    The most famous of the tightened polls occurred in 1980, when then-governor Ronald Reagan overcame a 6-point gap to win the election by 10 points. That story has to be giving Team McCain some hope right now (even though the scenarios are very different).

    No matter what the scenario, people are looking for Obama's lead to shrink. Joe Scarborough said on "Meet the Press" this week:

    These campaigns always tighten up. We are not a 60-40 country, we are a 51-49 country. And maybe this year it's 51 Democratic, 49 Republican. But it's going to be close in the end...
    In other words, America generally votes half Republican and half Democrat. (Newport points out that before election day, the electorate is really broken into thirds, with independents and other parties thrown in, but most end up aligning with one of the two major parties.) Any poll numbers that range far away from a 50-50 breakdown of the electorate probably aren't going to last, because as Newport explains, "historically, people return to their roots as the election nears."
    However, Newport does point out this year could be different, because so far there is "somewhat more democratic identification than we have seen in previous elections." But don't bank on it - Newport adds that could change.
    But Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post reported yesterday that the McCain camp thinks the campaign has already started to turn.

    McCain advisers insist that since the final debate in New York, their candidate has slowly but surely cut into Obama's edge -- carving a double-digit lead down to the mid-single digits in both national polling and surveys conducted in key battleground states.
    The McCain camp will be able to further bolster this argument with this nugget from the Washington Post's new daily tracking poll released last night:

    While those numbers [Obama, 53 to McCain, 44] are similar to a Post-ABC national poll released before the final presidential debate, McCain has narrowed the gap with Obama on several attributes, including "economic empathy." And for the first time, the percentage of voters saying that, as president, McCain would continue to lead in President Bush's direction has dipped below 50 percent.
    Obama seems to know the lead may not last, saying in an interview Monday:

    "That's what happens at the end of campaigns. Even when there are substantial leads. And in each of these battleground states, you've got a lot of close races. One of the messages that I've had to my team is that we don't let up. We do not let up."
    A bevy of things could happen before the election that could tilt the electorate in any direction. For example, another Osama Bin Laden tape could be released. Or there could be a personal revelation like the Bush-DUI news that broke days before the 2000 contest. Both of those events are credited with changing the dynamic of their respective elections late in the game.

    Then again, maybe the tide won't turn this time around. This election has broken ground on many fronts, no reason for it to stop now. Come November 4th, the prognosticators could be proven wrong. We'll just have to wait and see.

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    May 2007


    Just heard Wall Street Poll has Obama 10 points ahead and another poll has him 14 points ahead nationwide. I was watching Chris Matthews Show on MSNBC.

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