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The Story of the Race So Far -- the Surprising Weakness of John McCain

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First Newsweek showed Obama up 51-36. Now LATimes/Bloomberg has it 48-33. The two daily tracks Rasmussen and Gallup still have it 4-6 points. So where are we?

I believe deeply that the race for president wants to be a 10 point Obama victory. The underlining structure of the 2008 campaign has Democrats with 10 plus point advantages in all the major measures -- party ID, congressional and presidential generic ballot test. In 2006, the national vote for Congress broke about 53-46, and Tom Davis, the savvy GOP Congressman, says the environment is much worse this year. Democrats are showing incredible intensity, and have created a new model of politics that will allow them to involve millions of partisans to help the campaign as never before. As I wrote recently, Democratic leaning groups -- women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Millennials -- turned out in very high numbers in the Democratic primaries, offering what might be a very different electorate in 2008. McCain is by any historic measure, a weak and bumbling candidate, ill-suited for a presidential race, and is still struggling to bring his party together -- a party which has never liked him very much anyway.

The polling has been remarkably consistent in one regard. In almost every poll, Obama is in the high 40s, which would lead one to believe this is actually where he is now. What is changing is McCain's number, which is moving around in a range from the low 40s to mid-30s. 42, 42, 38, 36 and now 33.

The conclusion -- Obama is definitively ahead of John McCain at this point. Obama has unified his party and overcome problems he had with groups in the primary. He is already ahead in polls in enough states, including CO, FL, MI, NM and PA to see his path to electoral college victory. All rather remarkable for this bi-racial candidate with a funny name who few had heard of even a year ago. McCain, on the other hand, is clearly struggling to get even into the low 40s on a consistent basis. He is having a hard time bringing his party together, and his electoral college map looks problematic now. Even if Obama wins by 4-5 points, it is by presidential standards a landslide. Bush never won by that amount in either of his races. These new double digit polls also show that it is possible for this race to end up where it wants to be - which is Obama winning by 10 or more. Even the ambition of the Obama buy this week is as much about McCain's weakness as it about Obama's strength.

I always assumed that this race would be close until October and then would break open for Obama with him winning by 5-10 points. But the fact that we are seeing this degree of McCain weakness this early is surprising to me, and it is this weakness that is the story of the presidential race so far.

This was cross-posted on the NDN Blog.