Plus, consider the polls. Obama currently has a narrow lead, but in 1976 and 1988, Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis had much larger ones, only to see them diminish (or disappear) as November approached and voters weighed their fear of the unknown against their fear of the known. Even in 2004, right before the conventions, John Kerry had a small lead over George Bush. As for the comparisons of McCain to Bob Dole in 1996, they’re inapposite: by mid summer, Dole already trailed Bill Clinton by double digits — hardly the position McCain is in now.
Remember, too, that, in the primaries, Obama tended to run a little behind what the pre-election polls predicted. If that pattern continues into the fall, he’ll need to lead McCain by about three to four points to be assured of prevailing on Election Day.
Sure, Obama is garnering all the favorable attention now. But McCain will have a number of opportunities — with the selection of his vice-presidential choice, his convention, the debates, and the fall campaign itself — to alter perceptions of both himself and Obama. This is an extremely fluid campaign and both sides have yet to play their hand. Let’s see what happens when all the cards are on the table.
To read the “Presidential Tote Board” blog, go to thePhoenix.com/blog/toteboard. Steven Stark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: Stark Ravings
, Michael Dukakis, Barack Obama, Elections and Voting, More