Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where's The Obama Bounce?

I don't really take the polls too seriously at this point, but I must admit I expected to see an Obama bounce, coming off his foreign tour. Given the almost unprecedented news coverage, McCain relegated to an afterthought, it seemed entirely reasonable that Obama would benefit. The media fawned, the "rock star" at the top of the charts, under normal circumstances, it would seem a win/win for Barack.

With that in mind, I can't help but notice that the RCP tracking average today, now has the race the closest it has been since the beginning of June. Also, the two daily outfits, Gallup and Rasmussen, both show an Obama uptick during the tour, which quickly faded, the race tightening. I find that strange, given the little negative feedback for Obama, plus the fact McCain can't seem to get any traction.

What the numbers do suggest, Obama's foreign tour amounted to little in the end, which wasn't quite the plan. Now, I'm not getting excited, and I fully realize the state polls (although they get OUTDATED very quickly, with the infrequent findings), but a noteworthy development, that suggests this race is still wide open, a Democrat never a sure thing, no matter the circumstances.


Anonymous said...

The real Obama bounce will emerge shortly after the Denver convention. Given McCain's ability to shoot himself in the foot many times, it will probably be irreversible.

Steve V said...


The conventions tend to cancel each other out historically.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your overall analysis, but I personally never expected a bump. I think the purpose of the trip was genuinely two-fold:

1) To see Afghanistan and Iraq first-hand and to meet some leaders there and in Europe to get a sense of the current situation and current relationships. I'm not saying there was not a political aspect - clearly there is a campaign underway - but I do think it was genuinely a productive effort.

2) Just to show Obama's reception and effectiveness on the world stage. With the trip, his campaign has eliminated in one swoop the argument that would have been lingering out there about whether he could "handle himself" on the world stage. Even now a week later it seems ludicrous to see that as an effective argument against him. But, without the trip and without the images of that trip in the mind of the public, the question would be there and would certainly have been raised. Now it won't be or, if it is, they'll have the images and the sound-bites ready to respond.

That is not to say that there cannot be differences in policies. There will be, but Obama's campaign has eliminated the starter question in many voter's minds, which is could he hit the ground running.

Getting that done now frees up energies for tackling the domestic situation as the election moves into the autumn, which is where the election will be won or lost.

I do not think Obama has it in the bag, nor have I ever. And I think McCain is smart to get out his paintbrushes to try to make this election about Obama and his "presumptive arrogance." It may be a bit shallow and without a lot of substance - and ultimately not important since results not image are what actually make change in a nation - but I think it is a smart tactic for McCain to employ.

Of one more important note, the USA Today / Gallup numbers are a bit of an outlier. Did you know that during those very same dates (polling call dates), Gallup conducted a larger stand-alone poll that showed Obama up 9. Now I think that is an outlier as well. But in the RCP averages, they drop an old poll as soon as a new one from the same organization is completed. So now the Gallup poll just shows up 6.

The point being that without the one McCain +5 poll you would be seeing Obama averaging about +4 which is pretty consistent with where things have been for the past two months.

It is summer in the US as well. The September polls are what will matter in getting a real sense of the trajectory this race is taking.

Everything now is just pre-positioning and testing arguments . . . and creating the images they want to carry them into the fall.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I reckon that for a lot o' Merkans, bein' popular among Yerpeans is a negative. Red necks, white socks, Blue Ribbon beer and freedom fries.


Steve V said...

"The point being that without the one McCain +5 poll you would be seeing Obama averaging about +4 which is pretty consistent with where things have been for the past two months."

I agree, but it still leaves no bounce. I suppose you could argue the trip shored up Obama's internals on international experience and leadership, which might bear fruit later, but I honestly expected a bit more of a sustained uptick, because really, this was a candidate's wet dream, the coverage embarrassing, the equivalent of 100 million in free advertising.

Northern PoV said...

We all perceive this from our Canadian context which is ..we can't quite believe the gov't our neighbors have given themselves lately. Obama SHOULD be at like 75%.

McCain will be very hard to beat.
Not because he is a good or strong candidate. GW Bush was also weak but they both have a right wing machine behind them that operates successfully on so many levels: economic, media, voting manipulation, legal etc.
McCain gaffes don't register with the media or the public - they expect them so they ignore them.
Like Reagan, he gets "a pass".

Amerika does not normally elect Democrats ...Without Ross Perot, Bill Clinton would never have been President.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I hear you and actually agree.

The main difference we have is you expected to see a bump. I didn't.

I lived in the US for big chunk of my life, part of it in DC.

I just didn't expect images of Obama in Europe would move any polling numbers in the US.

They might eliminate basic questions or lessen attacks on ability to be on the world stage, but they weren't going to gain any converts. There is a good 45% of the US (with swings either way depending on the mood) who have visible animosity to "what the world thinks."

If he had fallen on his face, that might have moved numbers against him. But otherwise, it is pretty much status quo - particularly given the domestic situation which is front and center.

Steve V said...


Agreed. We do tend to look at this from the Canadian perspective, and sometimes we fail to realize that Democrats are always an underdog, no matter the seemingly favorable circumstances. McCain is tough, independents do like him, his approvals are right there with Obama, it would take little for this thing to sway his way.

Anyways, I keep telling myself not to read anything into the race until Labor Day, but I did think Obama would sustain something here in the lead up to the real race.

Steve V said...


Yes, and I see why you wouldn't expect one. The only reason I did here, I think it represented Obama's biggest opportunity to have the stage alone, all the anchors salivating in tow, his image plastered, thinking something should stick.

Anonymous said...

Steve Obama's immense ego has made this election a referendum on Obama. This election should be about how the Republicans have governmed for hte last 8 years, but Obama has made this all about him. He has high positives but he also has high very strong negatives. Hubris has been the tragic flaw since the beginning of Western intellectual thought.

Obama can't contain his hubris and it doesn't even come with a reume to back it up. There's nothing mysterious about this at all. The arrogance label and some questions about his war record sunk Kerry. So last week Obama goes out and has a tour where he pretends he's already President and ignores injured troops. No mystery.

It's like the debates. The press always says Obama won and then the polls and people say otherwise. The US political press have lost all credibiity on this race.

Steve V said...


I don't think his negatives are really that strong, relative to others in the past. I do agree, this arrogant sense is taking hold, and people would be wise to notice the Reps are starting to use the theme. The last thing a Dem needs is the perception of assumption, so expect some humble moments for Obama, if they're smart.

Blues Clair said...

Steve V, maybe there was no bounce but it might of stopped Obama's month long slide.

Also I think this might be important;

"We believe every day we talk about national security is a good day for John McCain,"
- McCain strategist.

Blues Clair said...

Also I would say if McGaffe gains a lead in the polls and becomes front runner, the press will be scrutinizing the Maverick Senator much closer, which might not be a such a good thing.

Anonymous said...

"Without Ross Perot, Bill Clinton would never have been President."

That is actually a myth. Before Perot re-entered the race in 1992, Clinton was leading by Bush by a huge margin in all the polls. If anything Perot took anti-Bush votes away from Clinton and made the 1992 election closer than it would otherwise have been.

Steve V said...


Thanks for the link, fair point for sure.


I buy that myth wholeheartedly, and you omit the fact that Perot was attacking Bush, which weakened him, another factor that helped Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Bush didn't need anymore attacking, he was already one of the most unpopular incumbent presidents in history. With Perot in the race it just meant that Bush-haters had two choices instead of one. The exit polls all showed that Perot voters would have split down the middle had he not been on the ballot and Clinton would have still won easily.

Steve V said...


I remember that campaign well, and Perot was primarily focused on Bush, which any fair observer would have to admit helped Clinton. And, if you look where Perot took votes away from Bush, you see that his presence was anything but meaningless.

Anonymous said...

"Perot was primarily focused on Bush, which any fair observer would have to admit helped Clinton."

Call me an unfair observer, but it seems to me that when you have two people both attacking Bush - you give anti-Bush people two people to split their vote between.

Similarly, if in the next federal election, Dion, Layton, Duceppe and May all just attack the Conservatives - seems to me that the beneficiary is Harper because the people who hate him are presented with four options in terms of how to register their distaste for him.

Steve V said...

"Call me an unfair observer, but it seems to me that when you have two people both attacking Bush - you give anti-Bush people two people to split their vote between."

Actually, you give those disaffected with Bush, primarily fiscal conservatives, somewhere to land, that wouldn't otherwise exist.

Anyways, back to this century...

Steve V said...

A new poll (here I go), although this caveat is accurate:

""You should treat polls at this stage of the game as you would a scoreboard in the third inning of a baseball game -- both show you who is ahead at the moment, not who will win the game," Holland said"

What was interesting, no movement for Obama on the internals after the trip:

"The new survey also suggests the trip -- carefully designed to burnish Obama's foreign policy credentials -- did little to alter voters' perceptions of how the Illinois senator would handle national security issues. Watch more on summer polls »

"Did Obama's trip help his standing with the public on foreign policy issues? Not really," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Obama has not picked up any ground against McCain on foreign issues and some 52 percent think McCain would do a better job than Obama on the war in Iraq -- virtually the same number who felt that way in April."

bigcitylib said...

Jimbobby's got a point. The Germans and French have exactly zero votes in this election. Obama should be touring Missouri eating pork rinds.

Who was the English atheist wrote a letter to the folks in a particular state telling them that they had to vote Kerry (Dawkins?)? They say he carried that state for Bush.

Blues Clair said...

Maybe so BigCityLib, but i'm sure many Americans welcomed the sight of one their political leaders being warmly (to put it mildly) recieved on foreign shores. Which builds on Obama message of hope (no matter dopey and cringe inducing that word may be to some, it worked for Mr. Clinton).

Antonio said...

the foriegn trip wasnt good at all steve

all it did was get him compared to paris hilton...

john kerry was also the favorite of european voters...

alot of good that did

the election man said...

Before the fall, the Dems always have a lead in the polls.

Kerry was way up.

Dukakis was too.

Carter when he lost.

What should concern Obama supporters (aside from the fact that he has literally NO qualifications, no real accomplishments and has perhaps the greatest gap between his hubris and his resume in living memory),

is how slim Obama's lead is given the fawing press and the historical slide in the polls for the Dems.

McCain is perhaps one of the most accomplished politicians in living memory. His courage (and no not just the life and death kind, but his political courage in crossing the isle and pissing off his own party to do what's right) is unparalleled.

Obama's nice speaking style will take him to mid-August, then substance kicks in and it will be a free fall from there.

McCain landslide in November.

Anonymous said...

Actually that is not true. In 1968, Nixon seemed headed for a landslide and then Humphrey closed the gap at the last minute.

More recently Bush was leading Gore by a wide margin in virtually all the polls over the late Spring and Summer of 2000 - two days before the 2000 election Bush was ahead of Gore by an average of 5% and a lot of pundits were predicting a Bush blow-out - it was actually a big surprise that Gore actually got more votes than Bush in the end.

Steve V said...

I can see the reasoning for the trip, it was a strategy to mute McCain's only real advantage. I'm not saying it was a failure by any stretch, only that for all the hoopla, little movement.

Red Tory said...

Maybe it was just me, but it seemed that the “unprecedented coverage” became the story. Watching a lot of cable TV throughout the day, this was non-stop. Is the media biased? How biased is the media? Is the “liberal media” in the tank for Obama? And so on. Then of course there was McCain whining and complaining at every opportunity, with the networks bending over backwards trying to look “fair and balanced” and so covering his asinine stops at the Sausage Haus or going with him as he pretended to load up a grocery cart, etc., then giving him tit-for-tat interviews and analyzing each of his churlish attack ads. Even the speech in Berlin that should have been a pretty amazing event by any measure after years of supposed “anti-Americanism” just seemed to arouse the suspicions of a lot of American voters, it seems (something I’d predicted, sadly). If those socialist wussies over there in Europe like him… well, then that just makes him seem more “foreign” and “risky”. Urgh. I could go on, but it’s too depressing. The stupidity of the American electorate is matched only by that of the puerile, completely useless press corps that covers these marathons of idiocy.

Anonymous said...

Obama has a 7 point lead in the CNN poll out today and he has a 12 point lead in a Research 2000 poll released over the weekend. He did just fine. Oh, and he had a great town hall in Missouri today. He's back on the campaign trail in full force.

Anonymous said...


you may want to check out the Gallup and rasmusson's daily tracking,

both of which are showing Obama's gap narrowing.

Anonymous said...

we can argue polls all we want,

but you can't argue with the fact that Obama's paper thin.

In the end substance will win out, especially now that the creepy "Obama makes me FEEEEL so good, so I'll scream out for him" emotive, cult like following is being exposed.

He's a fad.

McCain landslide.