US election minus 40 days

Gallup‘s three-day tracking poll shows the situation in the US presidential race throughout September as follows:

Barack Obama held a slight lead as the month began, which seems to be the long-term status quo. Then came the Republican convention and Sarah Palin bounce, which briefly put McCain well ahead. This moderated into a slight lead when the dust settled, before being wiped out with the onset of the banking crisis. However, Obama’s six-point lead at the start of this week has narrowed, despite polls giving him a clear lead on economic issues – surely a great boon in the current environment. Much is being said of an ABC-Washington Post poll which has Obama nine points in front, but this appears to be out on a limb. In any case, Gallup’s historical analysis reminds us that a lot can happen in the next six weeks, one way or the other.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,141 comments on “US election minus 40 days”

Comments Page 1 of 23
1 2 23
  1. I think a lot now depends on whether the economic situation starts to bite middle America. There isn’t a lot of time for it to do so and it probably wont which could play out badly for Obama either way. If it doesn’t he could still lose. But it will take years for the effects of the credit crisis, spending in Iraq etc to flow through. If Obama wins he may get the blame for the messes that have been delivered. Voters and totally unforgiving of an incumbent when things bite and it wont matter whether the problems were based in his presidency or the current administration.

    My best guess at this point is that he will win this election but become the first one term president in a long while due to being blamed about the real and significant drop in real-term income that I think is inevitable for many Americans in the coming 3-4 years.

    ‘Twood be a shame … but that’s politics for ya.

  2. All of those polling trends including 3 Polls listed hav moved to Obama in last week & with Obama leading by 12 points (46/34) on who is best to improve th economy & Wall Street meltdown likely to dominate balance of campaign , Obama has a clear advantage

    What was surprising was only a 35/30 lead on who is best to handle Wall Street crisis meaning there ar alot of ‘undecided’ , perhaps because they do not fully understand causes of th meltdown Should these “undecided” move correspondingly to Obama , then die may be cast and that seems both candidates immediate challenge

    Gallups historical analysis back to 1936 unfortunately only shows last 3 elections of registered vs likely voters , with remaining 15 elections ‘estimated vote’ unknown as to if it was based on registered or likely voters

    other intereasting part of Gallups 18 elections is 15 of 18 winners were leading at Labor Day , adding 2 weks to that for change in convention timing makes 13th September when there was a polling tie , but a very non historical event has since occured …Wall Street collapse which favors Obama

  3. No one has mentioned this aspect during Wall Street collapse , one one of my pet policys Kyoto/CC negotiations for 2009 Coppenhagen meeting were already tainted by both McCain & Obama disgracefully NOT supporting Kyoto ratification…whoever is elected now has a stronger ‘excuse’ making a required for CC emmissions reductions target level less likely

    I’d contend whatever th total cost of that ‘excuse’ , its still far less than th costs of delay

  4. Odd that the Gallup tracker has closed right up – level-pegging at 46-46 today – whilst Rasmussen has gone the other way. Obama +3 today and +2 yesterday, after being no more than a point in it in the eight days previous.

    Thus I don’t know if we can read too much into these movements. Probably more noise than signal.

  5. GGGRRRRRRR …… but should expect no less in the way of tricks from them, hope that this gets full press in the US. I’m forwarding via email to everyone I know who is still over there ….

    [ Of course, another clear sign that this campaign suspension is pure bunk is the fact that no suspending of the campaign has actually occurred! As documented on last night’s Late Show With David Letterman, McCain’s hasty exit didn’t find the candidate beating a path to the halls of power, to lay hands on the nation’s economy. His next stop was to sit down with Katie Couric, after which, he went…nowhere? You know, despite all the danger the country was in. Today, his surrogates have been out on teevee, in clear contravention of the suspension order. Nicolle Wallace and Tucker Bounds both appeared on MSNBC, sandwiching themselves around a campaign appearance McCain made himself at the Clinton Global Initiative. Meanwhile, at 10:00 am this morning, the actual leaders on this matter began their actual work on the bailout package. It’s fair to say that they’ve already outpaced all of McCain’s contributions on the bailout matter, even if we include the lovely set of talking points his campaign drew up for campaign volunteers to use in discussion — you know, the campaign volunteers whose activities are supposed to have been, uhm…suspended. ]

  6. [ Machiavelli’s treatise on the ruthlessly effective exercise of political power was, of course, entitled The Prince. Had he based his analysis on the Bush era, however, it might better be The Jester. Look around you and everywhere are telltale signs of the bad news: as much as we have ignored him of late, written him off and awaited his demise, the truth is it’s George W. Bush’s world, and we’re just being foreclosed in it.

    How does Bush rule with such an iron grasp? It’s the stupidity, stupid!

    At the most crucial moments, the Worst President Ever (WPE) always seems even more flummoxed, unintelligent, and brain-damaged than usual. The key word here is seems. Like this week. Every comment and speech has been grist for The Daily Show’s mill. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know: whenever, in this interminable presidency, The WPE serves up a WTF-burger with a side order of extra-stoopid, your bullcrap detector should be in full red mode.

    Careful historical analysis reveals a pattern to Bush’s presidential vacuity. There’s an algorithm at work here: the level of intelligence he displays is always in inverse proportion to the grand vileness of the plot he is hatching. The greater the evil, the dumberer he acts. I’m saying that George W. Bush may be stupid, but he’s no fool. In a humble, folksy twist on Machiavelli, he uses his stupidity for political gain. And that’s precisely what’s going on right now. ]

  7. Here is a clue about how Michigan might go, this is a cut and paste from comments section of one article.

    [ As a resident of Oakland County in suburban Detroit, I too can attest that many Michigan families are really squeezed right now. However, Michiganders go well beyond being one issue voters (economy/auto industry). Healthcare, abortion rights, and the war all appear to figure prominently in their minds.

    I have to take issue that people are not inspired or excited by Barack Obama, and are being driven by cynicism. As a volunteer in the local Obama campaign office, I witness 100s of volunteers coming into the office. The volunteers are energized by the Obama ticket and angry about the current state of affairs — they want to make a difference. Many are actively involved in an election for the first time, including myself.

    The Obama yard signs outnumber McCain signs 20:1 in my neighborhood and I live in a community that broke 55% Bush/45% Kerry four years ago. The race is also shaking up long-entrenched views on race in this area and sure feels like history in the making. ]

    Facts about Oakland county from Wikepedia which might help show how the vote is breaking out there according to what this lady says above – The racial makeup of the county was 82.75% White, 10.11% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 4.14% Asian American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. 2.43% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.4% were of German, 9.0% Irish, 8.5% English, 8.5% Polish, 5.7% Italian and 5.5% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 87.4% spoke English, 2.0% Spanish, 1.3% Syriac and 1.0% Arabic as their first language. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that non-Hispanic whites (including Arabs and Chaldeans) were 78.6% of the population; African Americans, 11.8%; Asian Americans, 5.3%; and Hispanic or Latino people (of any race) 2.8%.

  8. A take on the vote in Florida

    [ “One thought pushes fence-sitters to the left: Palin” Of the 11 undecided voters participating in the discussion one recent evening at the Times — four Republicans, five Democrats, and two registered to no party — only two Republican men applauded the selection of Palin.

    Nobody had finalized a choice, but seven of the panelists said that McCain’s running mate selection had made them more likely to vote for Obama, and in several cases much more likely. ]

  9. Juliem 6

    I agree; I don’t dislike Bush because he seems stupid – its because he is a lying sociopath. Anyone who deals with him is a fool.

    Nevertheless it looks like the whimpocrats are going to doa deal with him:

    When all the financial facts finally come out in the future, this will hurt the democrats terribly. Obama should steer clear of this whole dodgy, non-transparent $800B deal.

  10. The Dems road to 270 seems to mean Kerry states + IA (now a lock) + NM (almost a lock) + CO (same as NM).

    However, Obama needs to hold onto NH (only a 1 point lead there), PA (2 point lead), and MI (variable, but looks increasingly safe).

    In the other direction, he’s been doing increasingly well in OH (1 point deficit), NC (2 point lead) and VA (prob a little better than NC). And, of course, there’s Florida, where he’s about 2 points behind…

  11. Socrates,

    I have almost given up hope that the USA will ever straighten themselves out. Probably one of a myriad of reasons why I left in 2004. I’ve no plans to go back either. All of that having been said, Obama or any Democrat is the last best hope to straighten out the messes over there. Don’t know in the long term if they can do it but we can live and hope.

    Partisan politics, porkbarreling (believe that they call it now earmarking but not sure if that is the same thing or not, that term is new to me since the 08 campaign here); it has always been the case. The first election I can really remember clearly was 1972 [I was 11 at the time]. I can’t remember a single election/administration where things were really any different with the probable exception of Clinton 1992, to a lesser extent 1996. What that says to me is that Republicans simply can’t turn things around. Democrats can if you give them half a chance. Problem Clinton had (if memory serves) was a hostile Congress so he had challenges getting his legislation passed. [Not too dissimilar to problems Rudd is facing in the Senate at the moment, but with the executive branch being separate in the USA, it is possible for both houses of Congress to be hostile].

    What we need is for Obama to come in and take the nation in a whole new direction via leadership and example a la Roosevelt (who fundamentally changed the economics of the US coming out of the Great Depression) or Johnson (who fundamentally changed the course of civil rights in the mid 1960’s [although while you can legislate those changes, they are a lot harder to get in practice than the economic/monetary changes in the 1930’s as you are dealing with people’s learned behaviour, they have to unlearn it]). If Obama can carry that off, we will have a h*** of a wonderful president and the alignment of the electorate, as well as the racial opinions of a vast majority of Americans, will be fundamentally altered forever.

    I am hanging out for that Wednesday and the election news, God, I hope beyond hope that it comes to pass. The mood of the electorate in the US right now is comparable to what it might be here IF we had been up against 20+ years of Howards rule a la Menzies (in time in office) before the Kevin07 election. As I was only born in 1961 and have only lived resident in Oz since December 2004, can someone who lived through Menzies time in power AND is a Labor voter comment on whether or not they think that the comparison I am making about the “despair” of left side of the electorate in the US is an apt one?

    Thanks much 🙂

  12. We were right, they are trying to help McCain and it isn’t going to fly folks 😉 ……

    “White House Meeting Fails to Yield Bailout Deal
    Republicans Resist Agreement Met By House, Senate Negotiators”

    [ A visibly irritated Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, summarized the impasse in more pointed terms. He told CNN that the meeting was thrown off when Republicans brought up “some new core agreement” that supposedly had been floated by McCain and was being considered by the Treasury Department.

    “What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain,” Dodd fumed. “This is a sad day for the country.” He said he still hopes that a deal can be struck but that the Republicans “need to get their act together and decide what they’re for.” ]

  13. The Dems can easily turn this on McCain. They just need to say that they had a deal all sorted in Congress and then McCain stuck his nose in and ruined the whole thing.

  14. Anne Davies, the American correspondent for the Melbourne Age writes today:

    “This crisis and Iraq will define George Bush’s stewardship as one of the most disastrous in America’s history”.

    I have always found Davies to be even handed in her writings so that is a big call and probably represents the general mood that is sweeping the US at the moment. It is surely not going to help McCain very much.

  15. Juliem (14) I think there’s little doubt that the Whitehouse is trying to turn this into a rescue McCain mission and make it sound like he has played a big role in saving the US and the world..

    Do you think the American people would be collectively stupid enough to fall for that?

  16. [Do you think the American people would be collectively stupid enough to fall for that?]

    If he hadn’t have ‘suspended’ his campaign they might have, but it pretty much telegraphed that he was just playing politics, and the Dems in Congress can so easily turn this on him

  17. McCain blamed as rescue deal staggers:

    “TOP Democrats angrily accused Republican White House contender John McCain of sabotaging an astronomically expensive deal to bail out Wall Street and shore up the US economy.

    The $US700 billion ($840 billion) package stalled at talks convened by President George W Bush with top lawmakers and both the men vying to succeed him — Senator McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a new round of late-night discussions in a bid to get the deal back on track, set to be joined by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.

    “John McCain did nothing to help, he only hurt the process,” the senior Democrat said at a joint news conference with Senate banking committee chairman Christopher Dodd. ”,25197,24405395-12377,00.html

    So this rescue package my not play out the way McCain wants.

  18. [So this rescue package my not play out the way McCain wants.]

    Why did McCain even think he could be of any use? He admitted during the primaries that economics wasn’t his strong suit.

  19. [Sill question I know but is the syntax for using quotes and italics the same here as the old Pollbludger site. ?]

    Not sure about italics, but to quote something just put square brackets around it

  20. I guess you just have to be American to get it because I can’t see what they see.

    Observing McCain and his campaign so far and from this distance he looks to me incoherent, uncertain and somewhat eratic and looks like he could or will have health issues. And it seems having adopted lying a an accepted part of his campaign strategy (and his team as much as admitted that) he seems empty of any moral or ethical grounds. To me you would have to feel very nervous having this man as President – not to mention his VP candidate who obviously is incapable of even campaigning properly, being protected from those nasty reporters who migh ask relevant questions of a potential VP. And the contrast is a calm stable man who addresses the issues, is obviously intelligent, thougtful and articulate and all that stuff.

    Yet McCain is still fairly close in the polls. Seems Americans are Republican at heart and are loath to change even when whipped and abused by them over a period of time and presented with pretty much a dudd candidate team. You can just see President McCain saluting as the USS America slips beneath the waves, the captain going down with his ship.

    This is not about Obama I don’t think, it is amount American psyche – the reality couldn’t be more clearly spelled out to them and yet it seems a great many refuse to see. Maybe it goes back to their proclivity to religious faith where one has to suspend reality to believe and remain faithful. They adopt the same approach to politics – and have faith in the Republicans which overcomes much of the obvious wrongs.

    But in Australia we did the same I guess – hung on to a racist bigotted government that fed the wealthy at our expense and etc etc…but many kept on voting for them. Seems like people are happier to be fed b/s than face reality.

  21. Hate to sound like a broken record TP (27) but I believe a lot of it can be explained by skin colour. McCain is white, as is his lovely wife. Obama and his wife are black. Sadly, for a lot of people that’s all they need to know. The best we can hope for is that this financial crisis will help Obama sneak over the line by a small margin – and at the moment there is a very good chance of that happening..

  22. Darn and Thomas Paine, it’s more that Obama is seen as a Northern Liberal elitist than his race. In 1964, Johnson crushed Golwater 61-39; since then, the only Dem to get over 50% was Carter in 76, and only barely (50.1%). Bill Clinton’s two victories were both won with less than 50% of the vote, due to Ross Perot’s influence. Al Gore and John Kerry were white, but were both beaten narrowly by Bush. Repugs have won 7 of the 10 Pres elections since 64, and the 3 Dem triumphs have all been by southern governors.

    This is all due at least partly to the Johnson Civil Rights Act, which alienated the poor white southerners from the Democrats; previously, these people had voted Democrat, and were represented by nasty Democrats, commonly called Dixiecrats. The polling trends show Obama doing well among the educated and young, while McCain’s base is the ill-educated. The demographic shifts are that more people are becoming better educated, so eventually this will work in the Dems’ favour, and a northern liberal will be able to win. Due to the economic meltdown and the Palin pick, there’s a very good chance it’ll happen this year.

  23. The Dems nominate a totally unknown and unqualified candidate, a Harvard educated liberal lawyer, who has never worn a uniform, never run a business, never governed a state, never done anything except teach law and make pretty speeches, and they are *surprised* that he doesn’t romp away with the election? They never learn, it seems. And neither to people here. McCain may be all Thomas says he is, but after the success of Reagan, Thomas should know that US voters don’t think the same way about these things as we elitist liberals do. They look at McCain and they see a war hero, a patriot, a man of experience and character. Given what is happening, the fact that McCain is even remotely competitive this year is a terrible indictment on Obama, and on the people who nominated him. After the Wall St debacle I now think Obama will probably win, but it’s far from a done deal. He couldn’t close the deal on Clinton until the last days, and he can’t close the deal on McCain either, and for the same reason. And if he does win, it will only be because Bush so badly damaged the Republican brand that any Democrat could have won.

  24. Well I gather to win Obama has to have a good a margin as possible in polls come election day if there is such a thing as the Bradley effect or if it is large enough to give McCain the victory.

  25. I agree. If there is only a couple of points in it on 3 November, McCain will win. Racial prejudice will be *part* of this effect, but only part of it. The same thing happened to both Carter and Clinton. Carter was miles ahead in September and only just scraped in. Obama needs to be at least 5 points up to be regarded as the favourite. And he ain’t there yet.

  26. [Well I gather to win Obama has to have a good a margin as possible in polls come election day if there is such a thing as the Bradley effect or if it is large enough to give McCain the victory.]

    That all depends. The big unknown is whether pollsters have made allowances for a large likely increase in black voter turnout. If they haven’t then all the numbers are vastly undersampling them based on past elections.

  27. Darn @ 20,

    As noted by some others, there will be a racial component to the vote. Fortunately, in that regard, USA does not have compulsory voting and unlike Adam, I feel that the numbers who will vote with race as their top priority won’t make enough of a difference. That’s because they will come in parts of the voting bloc as a whole where they won’t do fatal damage. Outside of that, no I don’t think that Americans are dumb enough to fall for McCain’s antics. There will always be a component of voters who will always vote Republican no matter what. There will be Democrats too who will vote Republican (they will couch their choices with “not enough experience” or similar to mask to the surveyor that they are racist). In the bottom line, now that the economy has tanked, I can’t see McCain getting up by election day. Bush has so tainted the Republican brand that it isn’t going to happen. Prior to the economy going, I was worried. Now, while not overly confident, I am quietly confident that Obama will hold out even though it might be close ….

  28. Julie, since you are by your own admission so liberal that you have actually emigrated to escape the reign of Bush, I think your judgement must be regarded as ever so slightly suspect. Americans were dumb enough to fall for Reagan (twice), Bush Sr (once) and Bush Jr (twice), so there’s no reason why they won’t fall for McCain, who is a good deal smarter and more presentable than any of them. I do think the Bradley effect will harm Obama somewhat in places like MI, OH and PA, which Obama needs to win. But most white racists are already Republicans. The real weakness Obama has with white working-class Democrat voters is that he’s a Hardvard elitist who has never worn a uniform, not that he’s black. If Colin Powell had run, that demographic would have fallen over themselves to vote for him.

  29. Why ? Why after Bush one of worst POTUS in US history AND a Wall Sreet collapse is not Obama leading by a massive landslide ? Reagan like 489 E/V to 49 or better)

    Reason is he’s black Hell NO , Obama won th Democat primarys 51%/49% Obama supporters said this proved his magnetic great appeal transcended colour Fact is there is statiscally a Bradley and reverse Bradley factor , Obama’s colour helps him in key States with lesser reverse effect elsewhere where they vote Republican anyway , so th ‘he’s black excuse cuts no mustard

    Reason is uneducated don’t support Obama so its there fault Hell No , over 80% of US citizens ar high school graduates so being so educated they ar CHOOSING with there educated intelect NOT to support Obama , so that excuse won’t wash
    Reason is th fault of traditional working familys who polls say do not support Obama That’s true simply demonstrating Obama is not a Labor left type policys candidate

    Obama would not get elected to a senior electoral position in Labor Party in ‘oz’ because of his non ‘left’ views on Kyoto , universal healthcare , economic models etc and so similarly would not appeal to vast majority of ‘oz’ working familys either

    Compounding Obama’s “left” policy weakness’s , and apart from asociations , is he is an “elitist” who like all “elitist” hav detestable cultural attitudes on other citizens “Elitists” snobs ar regarded with contempt by probably 90% of egalitarian ‘oz’ …”elitists” th wannabe elite rarely attaining elite , th elite if humble being those who ar admired , Obama being an “elitist liberal” simply compounds electoral demagraphic problems and 6 key statistical factors of which were evident in th Pimarys

    Obama likely will win election because of Wall Street but that’s not much of a “postive” recommendation but not by 1980 Reagan levels , But win in spite of Obama but not because of Obama…win because of Bush and Wall Street , not because landslide wise US voters want Obama Most voters in there hearts just reely don’t want another ‘Republican’ (possibly meaning polls may be understating ‘likely voters’ & turnout)

    This is why rusted on Obama supporters do not “get it’ , and why they still do not understand that “an Al Gore” Democrat (th antithisus of Obama culturally & key ‘left’ policy wise) would be leading by a landslide right now Rusted on bought th cupboard but did not look in th drawers & ar intellectually locked in , probably saved by th Wall Street timing fluke being th likely decider , but then this site is not a demographic of th average intelligent person facing life’s normative hurdles

  30. Adam @ 37,

    For the record to set it straight, I married an Aussie in the mid 90’s and we were always coming home as he wanted to live back where he grew up and we agreed to that up front in our relationship. The fact the the timing of the move back to Oz (in 2004) conincided with getting away from Bush’s mess was only a timely coincidence. Cheers 🙂

  31. Fast forward to Sept 2010, 2 months before the November election.

    Australian Govt has to bail out Comm Bank, Macq Bank and AMP and Rudd said”if we dont take the money out of the Future, Education and Infra-structure funds, this Sucker Could Go Down”

    How do you think the News and Nielson poll would read?

    Newspoll – Rudd Vs Turnbull – Tie
    Nielson Poll – Turnbull +3.

    No way, there will be no contest.

    Because this is how it reads at the moment for Obama and McCain:

    Gallup Tracking 09/22 – 09/24 46 46 Tie
    Rasmussen Tracking 09/22 – 09/24 49 46 Obama +3

    I ask you, what is wrong with effing Obama?

  32. Adam and Finnegans: I’m a Hillary fan too, but she didn’t win the nomination!
    I’m supporting Obama, I’d back whoever was the Democrat candidate, simple as that!
    There’s an element here of a few desperately hoping McCain wins, so you can glorify in “I told you sos”.

  33. [I ask you, what is wrong with effing Obama?]

    There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with him, but there are and probably always will be racial divides in the US

  34. How ironic that it’s the Republicans in Congress holding up a deal on the bailout, not those horrible Democrats – so much for McCain’s intervention!

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 1 of 23
1 2 23