Newsweek, Fox News show Obama ahead

NEWSWEEK, FOX NEWS SHOW OBAMA AHEAD…. I can think of a handful of instances this year in which Newsweek polls have been outliers, showing huge gaps that quickly disappear. That said, if the magazine’s latest poll is close to being right, there are probably quite a few smiles in Chicago this morning.

With four weeks left in the presidential campaign, Barack Obama now leads John McCain by double digits, 52 percent to 41 percent among likely voters — a marked shift from the last Newsweek poll, conducted one month ago, when the two candidates were tied at 46 percent.

Underlying Obama’s surge in support: An historic boiling over of dissatisfaction with the status quo. An astounding 86 percent of voters now say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, while a mere 10 percent say they are satisfied. That’s the highest wrong track/right track ratio ever recorded in the NEWSWEEK poll.

Even Democratic optimists may be skeptical about some of Newsweek’s results. Obama enjoys big leads among men and women, and voters in every age group, including those over 65, who’ve been reluctant to support the Democrat. On specific issues, Obama has double-digit leads on the economy, job creation, energy and gas prices, healthcare, taxes and spending, and the financial crisis.

What’s more, the poll found that the McCain campaign’s smear efforts aren’t working — 60% of respondents have a favorable view of Obama (up three points from last month), while McCain’s favorability rating has dropped from 57% to 51%.

For what it’s worth, a new Fox News poll shows Obama leading McCain nationally by seven. If you’ve never taken a close look at Fox News polls, you may not have noticed how entertaining they can be. Despite the network’s obvious partisanship, most of the questions in a Fox News poll are fair and straightforward, and don’t reflect a bias or an agenda.

But then if you keep digging, you’ll notice a series of bizarre questions towards the end, which sound like they’ve been written by the RNC (perhaps because they were). Steve M. highlighted some of the gems from the latest poll, including this one:

“As you may know, Barack Obama has distanced himself from his former pastor Jeremiah Wright because of controversial and anti-American comments Wright made. Obama attended Rev. Wright’s church for about 20 years. Obama says he did not hear Wright make anti-American comments during the time he went to church there. Do you believe Obama attended Rev. Wright’s church for 20 years and didn’t hear him make anti-American comments during that time?”

How subtle.

Fox News also asked respondents about Bill Ayers and Charles Keating, though with the latter, the pollster emphasized that McCain “was cleared of all charges and ethical complaints,” and only asked about McCain’s “past association” and “past connection.” Not surprisingly, when asked about Ayers, none of these qualifiers were included.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.