After months of political pandering, smear attacks, unexpected announcements and partially explicated promises, Americans are about to head to the polls and decide who will be the next president of the United States of America. However, recent numbers indicate that for better or for worse, Senator Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the country. According to the most recent average of existing polls collected by the Real Clear Politics Web site, Obama is favored by 49.9 percent of the national electorate to Senator John McCain’s 42.3 percent. Additionally, again according to Real Clear Politics, Obama is projected to win 277 electoral votes (with a hundred more up for grabs). Only 270 are needed to win the presidency; the polling figures seem irrefutable.

However, poll results have the propensity for being wrong. For example, 2000 Democratic Party nominee Al Gore was winning the presidential polls by seven percent in mid-September of that year, according to a News Hour with Jim Lehrer clip. Gore did end up losing the race to George W. Bush that year. The difference between the current polls and the mid-September 2000 polls is stark, though. Three of the four presidential debates are now concluded, allowing many undecided voters to have their minds made up. As such, it is highly doubtful that the poll results will drastically differ from actual results with just 20-something days left before Americans cast their votes.

In March and April 2008, John McCain was leading several key polls, including the Gallop Poll. However, since that time, McCain’s popularity among Americans has greatly declined. What happened? Topical issues aside, such as the economy and wasteful government spending, Obama has outperformed McCain in two crucial categories: Message development and personal image aggrandizement.

Obama has consistently created cogently packaged platform issues, such as his popular tax policy, which states that 95 percent of Americans will not incur tax increases. Under closer analysis, Americans would discover the policy is not clearly outlined and sounds akin to financial redistribution, which is a socialist practice. However, through his careful phrasing of the issue, Obama’s plan asks “the wealthiest 2 percent of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility.” Clearly, Obama’s message development skills are exemplary, and have helped push him ahead of McCain.

Through the use of traditional media, but mainly new media, Obama has developed a rock star persona that is coveted by many Americans. Obama has strategically used new media and new media techniques to paint himself as a political celebrity. For example, iPhone and iPod Touch users can download free Obama applications that make it easy for the Democratic nominee to connect with tech-savvy voters via their phone/iPod. Furthermore, Obama has possessed a strong online presence since early 2007, when he announced he was running for president. Since then, he has been out-fundraising and outspending his Democratic and Republican rivals, by collecting smaller portions of money from many people via many new media practices and techniques, according to a Voice of America article. All of this, in conjunction with the fact he is not using public financing, has added up to increased exposure for Obama and his “hip and modern” persona.

In all, Obama has been running a 21st century campaign. He has a clearly defined and well-developed political message, and he uses new and traditional media effectively. McCain trots out rough plans (like the home mortgage government buy-out announced at the last debate) and has his Web strategist excitedly proclaim that the nominee is “aware of the Internet.” It really should come as no surprise that Obama is polling so well right now. Unless McCain can pull the proverbial fast one, those polls will soon translate to real votes in favor of Obama.

–posted by J.J. De Simone

Originally posted October 13, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

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