Stan Greenberg and James Carville
Democracy Corps


Obama Emerges with First Real Lead Memo (PDF - 12 K)

Full Survey Results (PDF - 7 K)

Powerpoint Presentation (PDF - 33 K)


Executive Summary

In Democracy Corps’ national and presidential battleground surveys conducted this week among likely voters, Barack Obama has emerged with the first real, sustainable lead of the presidential race. Obama has taken a 4-point lead nationally, but more important, he leads by 6 points in the presidential battleground states (50 to 44 percent). This lead represents a 10-point swing in the battleground states that Kerry lost by 4 points in 2004 - a comparable swing to what congressional Democrats achieved in 2006.

This race has changed in fundamental ways in the last two weeks - and not necessarily for the most obvious reason, the economy and financial crisis. Obama’s gains as a person and leader as well as gains on national security, contrasted with McCain’s negativity, political maneuvering and failure to take the Republicans with him, has changed the dynamic.

Key Findings

  • Democrats are on board. The debate and the last two weeks produced a complete consolidation of Democrats. Obama now does as well with Democrats as McCain does with Republicans. And Obama is clearly back to contesting independents. They are head to head here.
  • The issues surrounding the economic crisis are driving voters to Obama. While the debate and the week did not produce big shifts on the economy, Obama has slowly moved into an 8‐point lead nationally on the economy and an 11‐point lead in the battleground. But yet the strongest drivers of Obama’s thermometer score are things that emerged in the debate and in response to the financial crisis. Changes on the following comparisons and attributes are strongly related to gains in Obama’s personal scores: ‘will keep America strong,’ ‘national security’ and ‘has what it takes to be president.’ He appears to have crossed some threshold while making these gains against McCain.


This memo is based on a survey of 1,000 likely voters nationally and 1,044 likely voters in the presidential battleground states conducted September 28-30, 2008.