Obama Continues to Be Competitive in Virginia, North Carolina

Rasmussen Reports on Virginia:

The presidential race in Virginia is now dead even, with Barack Obama and John McCain each drawing 44% of the vote, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters in the state.

If "leaners" are factored in, McCain leads by a statistically insignificant one percentage point 48% to 47%.

[...]

In five of the last six polls, Obama and McCain have been within five points of each other. Only in March with the Jeremiah Wright controversy raging did the Republican candidate jump ahead significantly -- by 11 points.

And on North Carolina:

The race is still close between John McCain and Barack Obama in the traditionally red state of North Carolina. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds McCain ahead 45% to 42% in the Tar Heel State. When "leaners" are included, McCain leads 48% to 45%.

McCain led by two points last month and by three points in May. The two candidates were tied at 47% in April. North Carolina has voted for Republican candidates in nine out of the last ten Presidential elections. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state by a 56% to 44% margin. The race between Obama and McCain is also very close on the national level, where Obama is currently leading 44% to 42% in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Both of the surveys show that Barack Obama's favorable/unfavorable numbers appear to be harder at this juncture than those of John McCain -- a thought-provoking set of data considering it is McCain who has been on the political scene for the past three decades, and the past several years in particular, and Obama who broke out nationally just within the last few years.

These numbers, if correct, seem to suggest to me, then, that Obama still has quite a bit of room to try to define McCain as the Republican has apparently not yet been successful in completely defining himself with the electorate despite the fact that he has invested heavily in the past month or so on bio spots. Of course the opposite is true, too; McCain does still have time to define himself as well. But while there is a tendency to believe that it is preferable to save up for the last month or two of the general election rather than spend big in the summer months, if Obama can shape voters views of McCain now -- both in these key reddish-purple states, without which McCain cannot win, as well as across the country -- Obama's chances of winning come November could be greatly increased.

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Obama Stronger Among White Voters than Gore or Kerry

Remember all of the talk about Barack Obama's unique weakness among White voters? I noted the absurdity of this assertion earlier this month, but I thought it would be worth passing on a portion of professor Alan Abramowitz's analysis on the issue.

So does Barack Obama have a problem with white voters? The answer is a resounding "yes." And so has every other Democratic presidential candidate in the past forty years. The last Democratic candidate for president to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Al Gore lost the white vote by 12 points in 2000. John Kerry lost the white vote by 17 points in 2004.

Based on five national polls that have been conducted this month--Gallup, Newsweek, Quinnipiac, CBS/New York Times, and ABC/Washington Post--Barack Obama is currently trailing John McCain by an average of nine points among white voters. So Obama is doing much better than John Kerry and a little better than Al Gore. In fact, the only Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades who have done better among white voters were Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Not coincidentally, they were also the only successful Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades. Based on his current showing in the polls, Barack Obama may well be the next one. With whites expected to comprise less than 80 percent of the 2008 electorate, and with a 20-1 margin among black voters and a 2-1 margin among Hispanic voters, Obama's current nine point deficit among white voters would translate into a decisive victory in November.

Shocking, no... the numbers not lining up with the narrative pushed by a large segment of the punditry. Would it be better if Obama were able to secure a greater share of the White vote? Sure. But politics is about building coalitions, and there is no one single path to success that runs only through the support of White voters in America. Democrats can and repeatedly have secured pluralities and even majorities within the broader electorate even while carrying a minority of the White vote -- and, frankly, it seems more likely than not at this juncture that Obama will win in such a manner this year, too.

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Obama Takes in $52 Million in June, $22 Million for DNC

Big numbers this morning from the Obama campaign:

Democrat Barack Obama raised $52 million last month, boosting his presidential campaign's fundraising while building up his financial cache for the fall campaign.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee ended June with a combined total of nearly $72 million in the bank. The figure represents a notable fundraising jump, especially for the DNC.

But the Democrats still lag Republican John McCain's presidential campaign and the Republican Party.

Last week, McCain reported raising more than $22 million in June, which was his best month of the year. Together, the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee began July with about $95 million in the bank.

[...]

The DNC said it raised $22.4 million in June, a dramatic increase from the $4.7 million it raised in May. The spike in fundraising came after Obama and the DNC formed a joint fundraising effort. Donors can give a maximum contribution to the party of $28,500.

The DNC still fell short of its Republican counterpart, which raised $26 million in June.

It's interesting to see the press, who had previously been fixated on (as it turns out) erroneous reports that the Obama campaign had brought in about $30 million for the month -- a number they saw as underwhelming -- try to make the argument that Obama's $52 million somehow fails to meet expectations, too. Just a few minutes ago on MSNBC, Chuck Todd, whose work I usually find to be quite insightful, appeared unimpressed by this report. No mention, of course, that Obama's haul was more than two and a third times larger than that of McCain, or that the DNC more than quadrupled its take from the previous month, or that the pace set by Obama this month would provide him more than enough resources to justify his wise decision not to opt into the public financing program.

This actually evokes something that Matthew Yglesias wrote about yesterday: The notion that everything must be good news for John McCain. Consistently trailing Obama in the polls? Good news! Taking in less than half the money as the Obama campaign in a month? Good news! Not connecting with voters? Good news! ...? Good news!

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Are Jews Really Down on Obama?

Via Ben Smith comes new polling showing Barack Obama leading Jon McCain among Jewish voters -- though now performing as well within the group as John Kerry or Al Gore. But does that mean Obama is really destined to earn significantly fewer Jewish votes in 2008 than his most recent predecessors? First, the numbers:

The survey, commissioned by the Washington-based advocacy organization J Street, found that only 58 percent of American Jews said they would definitely vote for Obama, an Illinois senator. Another 4 percent said they were leaning toward the presumptive Democratic nominee.

In contrast, Al Gore and Bill Clinton both drew approximately 80 percent of the Jewish vote in their respective runs for the presidency, while John Kerry garnered about 76 percent in 2004.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they would vote for U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with 3 percent saying they were leaning toward the presumptive GOP nominee. That would represent a higher showing among Jews than the 24 percent President Bush drew in 2004.

First, the poll quotes incorrect numbers for George W. Bush's support among the Jewish community in 2004 -- Kerry actually beat Bush by a 78 percent to 22 percent margin (.pdf) in the two-party Jewish vote, and thus received less than 22 percent of the vote overall.

Second, the survey asked the heads up question towards the end of the poll -- and, even more problematically, just six questions after asking voters whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view towards the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. That's not the way to get accurate data.

And the numbers overall don't sound terribly on the mark. Despite the fact that Jewish voters backed Democratic House candidates by at least a 76 percent to 22 percent margin in 2004 and an 87 percent to 12 percent margin in 2006, the survey has the Democrats leading by just a 69 percent to 27 percent margin among Jewish voters in the generic congressional ballot question. Outside of some or any explanation of this, I'm just not buying it. These numbers don't really pass the smell test.

But beyond that, it's worth noting a few things about where Jewish voters were at a similar point in the 2004 cycle. Here are some numbers I noted in a post a couple months back: "[P]olling at the outset of the Democratic race in late 2003/early 2004 showed Kerry, as well as most of the other Democratic contenders at the time, beating Bush among American Jews by only about 60 percent to 30 percent margin. Even Joe Lieberman only carried the Jewish vote in a hypothetical head-to-head match up at the time by a 71 percent to 24 percent margin. And as late in the game as September 2004, polling indicated that Kerry only led Bush in this subgroup by a 69 percent to 24 percent margin even though he ended wup winning by about a net dozen points more."

So when folks trumpet polling like this to argue that Obama is uniquely weak among the Jewish community, perhaps they would be well served to look at the fuller picture -- that polling has shown similar trends in the past only to be proven wrong come election day when Jewish voters come home to the Democratic Party.

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McCain's Organization Gap Persists

There has been a good deal of talk about the enthusiasm gap facing John McCain, which potentially makes it significantly more difficult for him to be able to keep the White House in Republican hands this fall. But as important, or even perhaps more important, is the substantial organizing gap his campaign faces.

I have noted that the Obama campaign is on track to have something like ten times as many organizers in Missouri as the McCain campaign -- a number that underscores why this year the state looks more purple than red. The numbers around the country don't look too different. Here's the The Indianapolis Star:

The election is four months away, but for now the score in Indiana is Barack Obama, 6; John McCain, 0.

Zero campaign offices, that is.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has opened five campaign offices -- in Evansville, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Muncie and South Bend -- and will open a sixth in Bloomington on Monday.

Jonathan Swain, a spokesman for Obama's campaign in Indiana, said plans are to have 25 to 30 campaign offices in the state.

It's part of a push by Obama to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Indiana's electoral votes since Lyndon Johnson did so in 1964.

Here's Marc Ambinder:

A Michigan source sends along a memo from the Obama campaign's Michigan state director, Amy Chapman -- an "update," she calls it, on what the campaign is doing. And what they are doing is bringing jobs to Michigan:

To date, the campaign has hired more than 90 paid staffers and plans to hire another 80 by the national convention. There will be five full-time "constituency voter coordinators" who work with coalitions and affinity groups, like women, gays and veterans. All in all, the campaign plans to pay more than 200 people in Michigan. That's about twice as many staffers as the Kerry-Edwards effort did in 2004.

And here's what's happening in Florida from The Orlando Sentinel:

John McCain's Florida problems may be growing: Democratic voters have out-registered Republicans by a nearly 7-to-1 margin since January.

State totals show Democrats gained a net of 106,508 voters from January through May, compared with 16,686 for the GOP -- a shift that could muddle any McCain campaign math that banks on a Florida win to gain the White House.

New Democratic registration outnumbered Republicans in six Central Florida counties -- even heavily Republican Seminole County.

There's a reason why polling out of a state like South Dakota, which the Republicans tend to win by about 20 points in presidential elections, shows Obama within 4 points. There's a reason why the polling in Indiana, a state that the Democrats haven't carried in more than 40 years, shows Obama tied or leading. Organization matters. Having boots on the ground moves numbers. And for as effective as television ads are, as well as a national media strategy, having actual people actually meet voters makes a difference.

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