It's still very early, but already it is getting a bit confusing if you are following all the election polls out there.
For the last several weeks, most of the polls agreed that Senator Obama held a lead of 4% to 6% nationwide over Senator MCain. But then in recent days, two polls by reputable groups (Newsweek magazine and the LOS ANGELES TIMES/ Bloomberg News) have found Obama jumping out to leads of 15% to 17%.
Wow! Is that right? And does it matter? Remember previous candidates such as John Kerry and Michael Dukaksis, who saw sizable summer time leads in the polls evaporate by the time we went to the polls in November. And now the Gallup Daily tracking poll issued June 25, shows Obama and McCain tied at 45% and McCain showing a little bit of an upsurge, although whether that's due to the nature of a tracking poll and therefore the larger margin for error in the survey, that's hard to say for sure.
One thing you can say for sure. It is probably still too early to put much credence in any national polling, because, despite this cycle's increased interest, lots of voters have still not focused on the race to come and won't till after Labor Day, at the earliest. That's also true of state-by-state polling to try and measure electoral vote strength.
One final note on the current presidential race: While Obama continues to take a bit of beating in the media and on the campaign trail over his change of mind about accepting taxpayer dollars to run his fall campaign, he seems to be already using his huge advantage in dollars available over McCain here in Tennessee.
I have talked to several folks (who are not normally Democratic donors) who have received direct mail letters from the Obama team looking for support. I have also seen teams of young people canvassing Nashville suburban neighborhoods looking for support and dollars for Obama. And these teams are going into parts of town where you don't usually find such efforts.
Doing this in Democratic Nashville makes sense, given the past tendency of this county to vote blue. I wonder if this grassroots effort is also underway in rural parts of the state and how it is working there? Does the latest Rasmussen survey show some signs that Obama is gaining some traction in the Volunteer State? The telephone poll (June 26) shows McCain still leading 51% to 36% in Tennessee but that margin has been cut in half compared to what it was the last time Rasmussen checked it in April.
So while the state remains likely Republican according to the polling firm, there were a couple of other results from its most recent state poll to note. While Obama has risen in survey here, his favorable/unfavorable numbers are still 42% favorable/55% unfavorable. 77% of the Tennesseans surveyed they would be willing to vote for a black for President but just 57% think they same is true of their family, friends and co-workers. While Governor Bredesen has favorable numbers of 56% in the poll, only one in four voters would be more willing to vote Democratic if he was on the ticket with Obama. On the other hand, two-thirds of Tennesseans surveyed say it is least somewhat important that Obama include a Southerner on his ticket, 30% say it is very important.
NewsChannel 5 thanks Pat Nolan for providing this column every week. Mr. Nolan's commentary reflects his own opinions, not those of the NewsChannel 5 Network. Comments about Capitol View should be sent to Pat Nolan directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .