A new Newsweek poll has election followers a buzz because it shows Barack Obama with a 51%-36% lead, but the question is what is powering the Barack bounce? We’ll break down the numbers to show you how and why Obama is gaining momentum.
Support by Gender and Age
The largest movement towards Obama has been among women. In this poll, Obama has opened up a 21 point over McCain with female voters, 54%-33%. The Newsweek poll finds that Obama is being powered by voters 18-39. He leads McCain 66%-27% with this group. McCain needs the overwhelming support of older voters if he is going to win in November, but so far the race for these votes is a statistical tie. The Democrat leads with voters 40-59, 43%-42, and he leads with voters over 60, 44%-41%.
Much of McCain’s drop can be attributed to his strategy of aligning himself with President Bush while voter dissatisfaction continues to grow. This month voter dissatisfaction jumped 11 points from 69% to a whopping 80% of people who are dissatisfied with the way things are going. This is the highest level of dissatisfaction since the poll began in 1985.
Obama’s 68% approval rating is only 4 points higher than a Fox News poll done this week. The difference is the drop in McCain’s approval rating. The Fox poll gave McCain a 58% approval rating, but the Newsweek poll has him at 49%. It is clear that McCain has been hurt by lining himself up with Bush on issues such as the economy, and offshore oil drilling. Interestingly as the potential first ladies have become more visible, they are also reflecting their husbands’ poll standing. Michelle Obama had a 49% approval rating to Cindy McCain’s 33%.
Iraq and Gay Marriage/Civil Unions
When the issue in this election is the candidate that is most likely to bring about change, Obama dominates McCain 51%-27%. On the issue of Iraq, 65% of those surveyed want the troops home within 2 years. Only 26% agree with McCain’s position that troops should stay there for as long as it takes. There is also a cultural change going on in the nation. 57% of Americans favor either gay marriage or civil unions compared to 37% who favor no legal recognition.
There is a push-pull effect going on in this campaign. Voters are being drawn to Obama because their strong desire for change matches his message, but McCain’s movements towards Bush are destroying his maverick image and pushing voters away from him. This election could represent an historic shift as Obama could win the White House without strong support from white men.
What we are seeing in all the recent polls are signs that a strong coalition of women and non-whites is building behind Obama. It is clear that there is a bounce here, but there are also several disturbing trends visible for McCain. The Republican can’t win without being competitive with women. The female vote elected George W. Bush in 2004, and it looks like they will be the critical demographic again in 2008.