BY JAY COST –
Conservatives are growing worried, and Democrats gleeful, about Obama’s lead in the polls, basically for the same reason: it is late in the season (or so it seems), and the incumbent president has a lead. That is a good thing for Obama.
Perhaps, but three fundamental points need to be kept in mind.
First, Obama is weaker than previous incumbents who went on to victory. When we are looking through history, the only poll we can really utilize is Gallup if we want an apples-to-apples comparison. For better or worse, Gallup is the only polling organization consistently doing polling of registered voters since 1952. Even media outlets that have been polling a long time have changed pollsters over the years, so Gallup is the only game in town when we are investigating history.
Here is where Gallup has found incumbent presidents at this point, i.e. roughly mid-September, since 1956.
Through 2004 every incumbent who was above 50 percent at this point won, and every incumbent who was under 50 percent at this point lost. As of today, Obama is under 50 percent.