The latest AP-Yahoo News poll was released today and it confirms what many election watchers already know. John McCain’s negative campaign against Barack Obama has completely backfired. Carrying out a negative campaign when McCain isn’t well liked has resulted in Obama’s favorables going up, and McCain’s going down.
This poll is a tracking poll of the responses of a 873 people whose attitudes about the election are being monitored which means that it isn’t a good barometer of who is winning or losing, because the sample was selected more based on characteristics than voting. What this poll is useful for is getting a glimpse of the reactions of the public. When asked about to measure the personal characteristics of the candidates, 64% said that Barack Obama was likable compared to 49% for John McCain. Fifty five percent of respondents said that Barack Obama was compassionate, compared to 54% who said that John McCain wasn’t.
One of the big problems that McCain seems to have is that he doesn’t inspire people. Fifty seven percent of those surveyed that said that Barack Obama was somewhat to very inspiring. In contrast, 61% of those asked said that McCain is somewhat to very uninspiring. The term refreshing was rejected by 68% of respondents when applied to McCain, but 53% found Obama refreshing. It is pretty clear that these people don’t like McCain’s personality.
Obama also connects with these people better on the issue of values. Fifty six percent said that Obama shared their values, and 61% said that McCain doesn’t share their values. McCain still polls well on the issues leadership, experience, and terrorism, but unfortunately for him, these issues aren’t what the election is about. I think that it is easy to laugh off this kind of poll. It is a focus group picking which candidate they like better.
The problem for McCain is that close election tend to be decided by casual voters who make their decision based which candidate they like and connect better with. McCain has failed to connect with people, and make them feel like he understands and cares, while Barack Obama’s entire campaign operation revolves around connecting with the individual and making them feel like they are a part of something bigger. John McCain’s personality numbers look like those of Al Gore and John Kerry.
Voters are choosing which man they want to see in their homes for the next four years. It is logical that they would pick someone that they like and feel connected to. A liked candidate can run a negative campaign and get away with it with a smile and a wink. For a candidate, who is not personally liked such as John McCain, a negative campaign usually backfires and hurts the attacker. This is what’s currently happening to John McCain. I think every negative attack serves only to push voters away from him. If he keeps this up, Obama will cruise to victory.