Monday, August 22, 2011


Yeah, I'm disturbed (though not particularly surprised) by the new Gallup poll showing President Obama neck-and-neck with the four GOP front-runners -- but notice something odd about the numbers:

There's barely any difference in the numbers for any of these matchups -- Obama ranges from 46% to 48%, the opponents from 44% to 48% (in a poll with a margin of error of ±4). This despite the fact that you and I, and all political junkies across the political spectrum, believe that it's rather easy to tell these candidates apart -- Paul is miles apart from Bachmann on use of military force overseas, Romney is not a God-botherer like Bachmann or Perry, etc., etc.

But to the voters polled, to a great extent, this is just four polls of Obama vs. Generic Republican. Nobody seems to be distinguishing one from another.

Well, maybe they are a little -- Republicans seem slightly less likely to vote for Paul than for the others, and independents seem slightly less likely to vote for Bachmann. But that's about it:

This suggests to me that most voters aren't paying much attention to these specific candidates -- mostly they're choosing Generic Republican or sticking with the president. Which means that the voters may change their minds if they learn things about the GOP candidates that disturb. Of course, there's plenty to choose from that's disturbing. The only question is how successfully the Obama campaign will define his opponent.

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