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Who Cares?

National polls mean little at this point, but let’s look at the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.  It shows Barack Obama with a 15 percentage point lead over John McCain among 1115 registered voters. That could be taken as a sign of partisan preference rather than of specific support for Obama, but one question jumps off the page. In gauging a candidate’s appeal, I always look at the “cares more about people like you” question. It is what George W. Bush did well on even when people disagreed with his policies, and what the past two Democrat nominees did relatively poorly on. What about Barack Obama against John McCain? You’d think that Obama would be hampered on this question by racial differences, as he appeared to be during the Democratic primaries, but when the poll asked, “Regardless of your choice for president, who do you think cares more about people like you?" Obama bested McCain by 50 to 23 percent--among males by 42 to 27 percent and females by 56 to 20 percent. That says a lot to me about John McCain’s difficulties as a presidential candidate and does say something about Obama’s prospects in the fall, in spite of the fact it is only June.

--John B. Judis