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Three weeks after his election as president, the public’s confidence in Barack Obama remains “remarkably consistent” and “doesn’t yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect’s staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans,” Gallup reports this morning.

The polling firm’s daily tracking poll now shows 65% of those surveyed say they’re confident in the Democratic president-elect’s ability to be a good president. The figure has stayed between 63% and 67% since Election Day. Margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points.

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Source: USA Today

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Even though every political and statistical indication points to an Obama victory tonight — and a healthy one at that — a certain brand of liberal paranoia persists. This is too good to be true, Democrats declare, fingers grasping at their hair. McCain is tightening the race in key states. The youth vote won’t come out.

And so it goes.

But if in fact McCain were to win this election it would be, one of the nation’s foremost pollster says, almost historically unprecedented.

“There is no reason in history to suggest [Obama won’t win],” said Frank Newport of Gallup. “All you can go by is history and compare our last polling that we have done before the election and the actual outcome in the presidential election… We have most polls showing Obama with a statistically significant lead nationally and also in these states. If he were to lose, it will be the first time since World War II something like this has happened. Now, keep in mind. It’s a small sample, less than 20 elections, but it would be very unusual, in fact, exceptional… improbable.”

Indeed, the last time that Gallup’s final poll before the election did not accurately determine the winning candidate was 1948, when they stopped polling a week before Harry Truman’s comeback victory against Thomas Dewey. Even in 1980, when Ronald Reagan staged a late comeback that turned into an electoral rout, Gallup caught glimmers of this trend just in time, showing the Gipper up three points in its last poll.

When it comes to the current election, the firm has Obama up eleven points in its final survey. But what should make Democrats more assured, said Newport, is that the Illinois Democrat has maintained a steady margin throughout the past month.

“Since September 15, Obama has been ahead in every poll we have conducted or any other polling I have seen and often by substantial margins,” he said. “It is not like it is race in which McCain was leading and we are seeing some kind of shift for Obama, it has been Obama ahead pretty dominantly.”

Moreover, other polling firms are documenting similar trends — a confluence of data that validates the larger picture.

“We are all using a measuring instrument to estimate a big population,” said Newport. “It is like we have a giant lake and we are trying to estimate the bacteria percentage. So we take a sample and test it and that is what we are doing. But yes… if you have 15 scientists and they are all showing the same thing, that does give you more assurance that the lake has some bacteria.”

There are, of course, Obama supporters who will remain unconvinced. And as evidence they could cite the polls leading up to the New Hampshire primary, which showed the Illinois Democrat in a similarly comfortable lead only to lose to Hillary Clinton by two points. Newport acknowledged that the primary fight in the Granite State gives him and others in the business pause — he has yet to find a smoking gun to explain what happened, though he hinted that massive late-stage change in voter preference moved too quickly for polls to pick up.

But that was, for better or worse, an aberration. Pressed to quantify just how big a failure for the polling industry a McCain victory would represent, he didn’t feel comfortable even following the hypothetical.

“Call me tomorrow,” he replied. “Obviously when Gallup and other scientific polling organizations do our best… and if for some reason the actual voting out there didn’t mirror, internally, what we were showing, it certainly would be a time where we would have to say, ‘What are we doing wrong?’… But we will cross that bridge if we get there. Right now, we aren’t crossing that bridge… It is improbable. But like I said, call me tomorrow.”

Source: HP

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole’s dismal 1996 result than to Bush’s historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans’ hostility to illegal immigration.

And he’s been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations – Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico – at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

“I feel bad for McCain,” said Sam Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, who is neutral this year. “We find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. We really like John McCain. We really don’t like the Republican Party.”

Democrats relish McCain’s quandary.

“It’s hurt him in every way,” said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democrat Network, which has focused on bringing Hispanics back to the Democratic Party. “I don’t think it’s assured the right he’s really with them. And for those who are immigration reform advocates, he’s become a betrayer, having been a leader.”

Since America’s economic crisis deepened this fall, immigration has almost entirely vanished from the national conversation. Three debates have passed without a single mention of the issue. And the undertow has pushed Hispanic and anti-immigrant voters alike toward the Democratic Party.

But under the radar, McCain and Obama are slugging it out in a bitter exchange of attack ads on Spanish-language radio and television.

“Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service,” she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. “We don’t have that kind of money to spend.”

Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Amandi said that some had also falsely assumed that because McCain shared Bush’s moderate position on immigration, he would inherit Bush’s support.

“President Bush making his life and career in Texas grew up with Hispanics, always had Hispanics in his inner circle and in his kitchen cabinet, and had a genuine respect for the culture,” he said. “There was never an emotional connection, there was never a personal connection, between McCain and the Hispanic community.”

Source: Politico

PRINCETON, NJ — The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking report shows Barack Obama with a 52% to 41% lead over John McCain.

These results, based on Oct. 5-7 polling, are the best for Obama during the campaign, both in terms of his share of the vote and the size of his lead over McCain. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

Nearly all interviews in today’s report were conducted before Tuesday night’s town hall style debate in Nashville. Any movement in voter preferences as a result of this debate will be apparent in coming days.

Voter preferences seem to have stabilized for the moment, as Obama has held a double-digit lead over McCain in each of the last three individual nights of polling.

Concern about the economy seems to be playing to Obama’s advantage; he overtook McCain when the financial crisis worsened in the middle of September, and his strong showing today coincides with the worst rating of the economy this year (59% of Americans describe current economic conditions as “poor”). — Jeff Jones


(Click here to see how the race currently breaks down by demographic subgroup.)

Survey Methods

For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.

The general-election results are based on combined data from Oct. 5-7, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,747 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Source: Gallup