Monday, September 01, 2008


Update: Chris Bowers makes this point: these polls show the "undecideds" shrinking in number, so the Obama bounce is actually larger--and maybe longer lasting--than it appears at first. "Relative to the number of undecideds needed to win the election, Obama's advantage has actually quadrupled."

The standard for bounce measurement is Gallup, and today's USA Today/Gallup poll story begins like this: "The Democratic National Convention significantly boosted Americans' views of Barack Obama as a strong leader who "shares your values" and can manage the economy and Iraq, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Saturday and Sunday finds.Republican John McCain's advantage in handling terrorism was dramatically reduced and his "unfavorable" rating ticked up to its highest level this year."

On personal characteristics, Obama has eliminated McCain's advantage over him as "a strong and decisive leader." By 46%-44%, those surveyed say that characteristic applies more to Obama than McCain. Before the convention, McCain held an eight-point advantage. Obama has a 13-point advantage as someone who "shares your values," double the edge he held before the convention. He has an eight-point advantage as someone who is "honest and trustworthy; before the convention, they were ranked equally on that quality."

Obama leads by 7 points, and significantly, is at 50% (50-43%.) Crossing the 50% threshhold would be better, but this is good news. It also factors in immediate reaction to the Palin pick.

Though the CNN poll yesterday showed negligible movement, two other polls today showed Obama did get a convention bounce. The Gallup tracking poll shows a 4 point bounce, "fairly typical" of past conventions. It's Obama 49% to McCain 43%. A CBS poll gives Obama an 8 point lead, 48-40%. Obama made significant gains among women and independents in this poll.

The convention bounce is usually temporary, but I am still looking for the point where Obama consolidates a lead. It's true that these national polls don't mean a lot--state by state means more, and even those don't always reflect reality, based on models used, cell phones, etc. But people notice the national polls, if not on their own then through media coverage. And people are more comfortable with their voting decision if it is shared by others. This used to be called the bandwagon effect. It's about enthusiasm as well as numbers.

So far enthusiasm seems to be holding. The Gallup: In the poll, Democrats continue to benefit from a "enthusiasm gap." By 57%-28%, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year. By 47%-39%, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are less enthusiastic than usual.

How people feel about qualities and issues can also change, but gaining ground in these areas can be like gas prices--when they go down, they don't end up where they were before they started going up.

Obama is more patient about this than I am. He doesn't expect things to take shape until mid October, according to his 60 Minutes interview yesterday.

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