Barack’s Excellent Adventure

17Jul08

McCain’s campaign doesn’t get much credit for doing anything right, and with good reason. His effort haven’t come with much flash. On the other hand, the lack of flash may be mitigated by quiet, barely noticed strategic moves that have put Barack at a disadvantage. For example, have you noticed that the entire contest seems to be revolving around McCain’s strong suit?

Barack Obama will flash Kennedy-style charisma but face a stern test as a novice on the world stage in the Middle East and Europe next week, on a trip rich in both risk and potential rewards.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is expected to meet King Abdullah II in Jordan, tread the frontlines of the Israeli-Arab conflict in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and engage leaders of European powers Germany, France and Britain.

His audition as US commander-in-chief is also expected to take in Iraq and Afghanistan soon, though details have been withheld for security reasons.

The media doesn’t talk about it much, but do you remember that Barack planned the trip after being called out by McCain for his neglect of Iraq?

“This is one of those things that is high risk, but he has no choice,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noting polls that show voter disquiet over Obama’s inexperience.

“If he pulls this kind of trip off, it is a huge payoff because this is his only real weakness at this point.”

On the other hand, a small mistake or two, and Barack’s lack of qualifications for the job could become the story of the summer.

McCain holds an 18 point lead on national security concerns in the latest Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, which shows the race tied. On the economy, the most important issue to voters, Barack is favored by just two points over McCain, so correcting his international deficit is critical.

What about McCain struggling to gain the support of his party?

McCain is supported by 82% of Republicans and holds an eleven-point edge among unaffiliated voters. Obama is supported by 76% of Democrats. Obama leads among voters under 30 while McCain has the edge among those over 65. The two candidates are even among voters aged 30-64 (see other recent demographic highlights). Thirty-four percent (34%) of voters are certain they will vote for Obama and not change their mind before November. Another 34% are that certain about voting for McCain.

Rasmussen also shows about a third of voters still unclear on their presidential preference, showing once again that Barack, who had a tough time closing the deal against Hillary, is not lighting fires under anyone beyond his base.

That leaves 32% open to changing their mind before voting and creates a potential for either candidate to open a significant lead in the fall.

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