The Obama Gap

According to the latest Democracy Corps national survey of 1,014 likely voters conducted May 13-15, 2008, Barack Obama holds a narrow two-point lead over John McCain. While this amounts to a statistical tie, a deeper analysis of the current survey, as well as data from our March and April national surveys, shows that Obama is in a better position than McCain to expand his share of the vote. Our previous memo, “Obama Emerging Ahead in Close Race,” explored the macro forces and the issue terrain that will shape the Obama-McCain general election and showed that Obama’s central message of change versus the Bush status quo is well-crafted to move an electorate that is looking to change more than anything else. This report explores the demographic groups where Obama is currently facing the most difficulty against McCain, where the “Obama Gap” is greatest. 

These are the voters where Obama currently underperforms relative to either a generic Democrat or to John Kerry in 2004. These voters present a challenge to Obama, but also a real opportunity to increase his vote share and open a substantial lead on McCain. In this memo, Stan Greenberg, Andrew Baumann, Jesse Contario and Mike Gaffney examine the four different types of “Obama Gap” voters, and break down in which groups Obama has the potential to win more votes.

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