Monday, July 28, 2008


Robert Novak today (also here):

...That [Obama] lingers below the 50 percent mark is a mystery among politicians of both parties.... In 1976, Jimmy Carter took a 33-point summer lead over President Gerald Ford....

Michael Barone a couple of weeks ago:

...Ford's political situation then was far more parlous than McCain's today. An early summer Gallup poll showed him trailing Carter by 62 percent to 29 percent....

Yeah, why did Carter have a huge lead in the summer of '76, and Obama doesn't now?

Oh, yeah, a little incident intervened to give Carter that big number, one that neither Novak nor Barone bothers to mention -- the Democrats had their convention.

Yes, Obama doesn't have a huge lead in July, and Carter did, in part because Carter had an earlier convention, and thus got an earlier convention bounce. Not in every poll, by the way, and not for very long:

...The Gallup poll showed [Carter] dropping from 62% (and a 33-point lead) in late July to 48% (a six-point margin) as of last week [October 1976]. Harris had him at 66% (a lead of 39 points) in July, which fell to 47% and a five-point edge last week. Yankelovich, who conducts opinion soundings for TIME, never gave Carter more than 48% and a ten-point lead, and right after the first debate had him running dead even with Gerald Ford.

...Carter's decline, however, is rather readily explained. Both Gallup and Harris gave Carter his biggest lead immediately after the Democratic National Convention in July, when his visibility was highest and when Ford was trying to fend off the challenge of Ronald Reagan....

Yes, not only was Carter having his convention in July, Ford was still going through his Obama-vs.-Hillary period. So the two Julys really aren't comparable.

I'd also argue that the GOP caricature of evil dangerous freak Democrats is so much better established now than in 1976 that, until it loses all its power, no Democratic nominee will ever get out to a 33-point lead.

Republicans have also benefited from the Mafia-like loyalty they've shown on Iraq, the #1 issue in America until recently, in contrast with many prominent Republicans' desire in 1974 to cut Nixon loose (and thus make disloyalty to the party seem OK).

Oh, and yeah, there is that melanin difference between Obama and Carter....

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