Obama Holds Double Digit National Advantage


As the presidential candidates prepare for their last debate in New York, Democracy Corps’ latest national survey, consistent with that of the The Washington Post/ABC News poll released a day earlier, shows Barack Obama holding a double-digit advantage over Senator McCain in the race for the White House. In Democracy Corps’ latest national survey Obama reached 50 percent of the vote while only 40 percent of voters said they would vote for McCain, down 5 points since last week. The underlying trends shaping this dramatic shift in the race for the presidency include:

  • Increasingly toxic environment for McCain. As voters worry about their economic future, desire for change has reached epic proportions with 85 percent of voters saying the country is heading in the wrong direction and Bush’s approval rating plummeting below 30 percent. In this environment, McCain’s voters are significantly less enthusiastic about this year’s election than Obama’s.
  • Voters reject John McCain and his negative campaigning. A majority of voters report that the news of the last few days have made them feel less positive towards McCain and 16 percent of those mention his campaigns’ negative tone as the main reason. By 19 points, the news broke more negatively for McCain (34 to 52 percent less positive) and by nearly an identical margin of 18 points (51 to 33 percent more positive) the news broke more positively for Obama. Indeed, McCain’s personal favorability rating dropped 5 points in the last week and his share of the vote plummeted by the same margin (from 45 to 40 percent).
  • Obama holds striking lead among independent voters. Obama’s double-digit electoral advantage is built on his surge among independent voters. In this survey, Obama edged McCain among independents by 14 points (47 to 33 percent) – his biggest margin since the beginning of the campaign. His advantage emerged as more independent voters moved away from McCain to support Bob Barr and some to support Ralph Nader.
  • Obama improves standing on key attributes. Obama’s net favorability rose 7 net points in just one week and a majority of voters now hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic nominee. Obama’s overal favorability rise is accompanied by improvements on key attributes.Obama’s campaign efforts to reassure voters have been successful in reducing voters’ doubts about his experience, evidenced by the proportion of voters saying he lacks the experience to be president dropping 5 points in one week. Obama also made significant inroads on authenticity and now holds his biggest advantage of the campaign over McCain on “shares your values” and being “honest and trustworthy” leading McCain by 10 and 9 points respectively on those measures.Voters are also more likely to see Obama as a leader. For the first time in this campaign, Obama is favored over McCain as who is “a strong leader” (48 to 44 percent) and by more than 10 points voters are more likely to see Obama as having a vision to address the problems facing the country, capable of getting the country back on track and restoring respect for America in the world. Indeed, Obama reached his highest advantage over McCain on “bringing the right kind of change” (54 to 37 percent).On the issue that matters most to voters – the economy, Obama is increasingly more trusted than McCain. By 17 points voters favor Obama over McCain on the economy (up from a 6 point lead last week) and by 15 points voters prefer Obama on who would be better to handle the financial crisis (up from a narrow 2-point advantage last week). Even on taxes, McCain’s principal entry on the economy, Obama built a double-digit margin over McCain (52 to 40 percent) as voters’ doubts about Obama being too willing to raise taxes dropped 5 points and stand below 50 percent for the first time in this campaign. Obama’s intense advertising and reassurance on this question is being heard.Finally, Obama significantly improved his standing compared to McCain on national security. Obama cut John McCain’s lead on this measure in half and, more importantly, voters are now split on whether they trust John McCain or Barack Obama more to handle the war in Iraq.
  • Remnants of resistance. Despite voters’ growing disaffection towards McCain, there is some evident resistance to joining Obama’s camp. As McCain’s support dropped 5 points, Obama’s only improved marginally because 60 percent of the voters moving away from McCain are now undecided and still not ready to support Barack Obama. The messages that work best to reassure swing voters and lead them to support Obama include health care, fighting for American jobs and the economy and being for the middle class.

This e-alert is based on a survey conducted October 8-12, 2008 among 1,000 likely voters nationally. We hope that you find this analysis helpful in your work and please call us at 202-478-8300 with any questions or comments.

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