Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama's Fifty-Percent Barrier

As the new Gallup Poll shows him leading John McCain nationally by 49 to 40 per cent, there is the question. "Where's the Bounce?" from his apparently triumphant tour of the Mideast and Europe last week.

"Why is he not doing better?” the Times' Adam Nagourney asks today. "Even Mr. Obama’s advisers say they are uneasy about his difficulty so far in breaking the 50 percent barrier--a reminder, in poll after poll, that there are many Americans who are not yet ready to cast their lot with him, and may never be."

Some analysts compare Obama to Reagan in 1980, following the unpopular Jimmy Carter but needing to persuade voters he was credible as a president.

“It took a long while for the American public to test and look at Ronald Reagan before they were willing to go with him,” a Democratic pollster points out. “And then, when the dam broke open, it broke open very, very wide.”

It may be too optimistic to equate the comfort levels of American voters over a former actor with those of an African-American with less than a full term in the US Senate, but then again Ronald Reagan didn't have almost two years of exposure in a 24/7 media and internet world to familiarize them with what kind of president he might be.

With more than three months and two national conventions to go, Obama's prospects are looking good, 50 percent or not. Reagan had Jimmy Carter running against him as a living reminder of what the choice was, but John McCain keeps showing voters that he is George W. Bush's heir.

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