July 31, 2008

Why isn't Barack Obama doing better in the polls?

By Brian Saint-Paul *

Last week, I remarked on the largely ineffective campaigns of both John McCain and Barack Obama. Little has changed since then, with Obama ahead by an average of 3 points (down from 5 in last week's post).


And that again raises the question of the day: Why isn't Barack Obama doing better? We know why John McCain hasn't broken out in the polls -- he's running in the shadow of an unpopular president and an unpopular war, with an economy in shambles. All things considered, his numbers are about as good as they could be.


Not so for Obama.


Consider the situation: Barack Obama is a fresh and exciting new face, who is also the most stirring American political orator in recent memory. He just completed a blistering world tour wherein he looked downright presidential -- all the while, managing to catch a crypto endorsement from the Prime Minister of Iraq, warm welcomes from other world leaders, and huge crowds. It was a trip made for TV -- the perfect cap to a campaign that has been built almost wholly on imagery.


And yet, what came of it? Obama received a small bounce -- a 9 point lead was the high water mark -- and then dropped below the pre-trip numbers. The race is now closer than it was last week. In fact, Monday's USA Today/Gallup poll of likely voters has McCain ahead by 4.


At this same point in 2004, Democrat John Kerry had a lead of 5 percent -- without the charisma, press adulation, and anti-GOP climate that Obama enjoys. And we know how that race turned out.


So what is Obama's campaign doing wrong? It isn't enough to say they have the wrong candidate -- Barack Obama has gifts most political aspirants would kill for. And besides, every candidate brings deficiencies to the table; a campaign's job is to spin those away. They obviously haven't done that, which is why the race continues to be so close.


We're told he's running a disciplined campaign, with an effective and growing organization and ample fundraising. If that's the case, he's in trouble.


Printed with permission from Inside Catholic.com

Brian is the editor of Crisis magazine and Inside Catholic.com.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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