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August 21st, 2008
05:13 PM ET

Professor Obama and the August Curse

John King | Bio
CNN Chief National Correspondent

Do the Democrats have an August curse?

That's probably not the best way to put it, but in elections they have lost, Democrats often look back and view August as a wasted or just plain horrible month.

In 2004, for example, John Kerry led most national polls heading into August; his biggest lead was in the five-point range. But by early September, some surveys had President Bush up by as many as 10 points.

The Democratic collapse of 20 years ago is the stuff of legend. Michael Dukakis was up 17 points in some national polling after his July convention, but that lead started to fade in August and in the end Dukakis won just 10 states.

So will it happen again?

The numbers aren't as dramatic as 1988, but they do have many Democrats nervous.

In mid-July, the CNN poll of polls – an averaging of major national polling data – showed Obama with a six-point lead over Republican John McCain. Now, as we prepare for next week's Democratic convention, Obama has a tiny 1-point edge over McCain: 45% to 44%.

Too professorial, some Democrats say of their candidate. Too different, others worry.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart still believes Obama can and should win the race handily. But he says to do that, Obama needs a strong convention, stronger debate showings, and an adjustment in his communications approach.

"Democrats have all the advantages on the macro elements: the direction of the country, the mood toward the president, the sense of change," Hart says. "Voters are worried, though, about who is more experienced, who has got the right set of qualities, who is going to be safe, who is going to be able to deal as commander in chief."

Hart's advice?

"One thing Barack Obama has got to do is move from long paragraphs into simple sentences. 'Yes We Can' is a phrase. Now there needs to be meat on the bones and simple sentences that voters in voters in rural areas and suburban areas can understand and say – 'That is my man."'

Editor's Note:
Don't miss the full report tonight with John King as he anchors AC 360° tonight 10pm EST.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John King • Raw Politics • T1
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. CJ

    Well, my comments never seem to get posted but here goes: to all Obama supporters: he did NOT win the democratic nomination. He was appointed by DNC leaders/insiders. Until you understand that, you will not understand the depth of resentment among us who supported Hillary. So please stop with all the hate, it does no one any good. Unless Hillary is the VP nominee, I will be writing her name in... 'Nough said.

    August 22, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
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