Here are some of the highlights:
1. Obama's Lead is Not That Much Less Than Expected. As is the case with every other poll, the Barna group shows Obama ahead--this time by 43-34. But their last poll two months ago had Obama up 50-35. So, the Barna group views the race as "tightening." What's significant is that Obama's ahead by 9. The "tightening" may be completely a result of Obama losing the post-clinching "bump" he had early in June. Moreover, the 9 point margin is pretty close to the 11.8 lead the Democrats have in the generic Congressional ballot. Obama might be closing the gap on the generic Democrat.
There's more good news for Obama in the breakdown between "likely" and "registered" voters. The Barna group shows Obama with a 9 point lead among "likely" voters. The lead expands to 14 (43-29%) if registered voters are included and the Obama campaign has been working overtime to register new voters.
2. McCain Not Gaining. The big movement in the poll was from Obama to undecided with the proportion of "undecideds" increasing from 15% to 21%. The problem for McCain is that he has not been able to increase his own support even though his negative advertising has been effective in creating doubts about Obama. So far, John McCain has not defined a compelling reason for undecided voters to switch their votes to him.
3. The McCain Embarrassment Hidden in the Numbers. The Barna group breaks down its sample into nineteen different religious groups. Being 9 points behind, it's not surprising that McCain is behind in most of the religious groups. Obama leads among
non-evangelical born again Christians (43% to 31%); notional Christians (44% to 28%); people aligned with faiths other than Christianity (56% to 24%); atheists and agnostics (55% to 17%); Catholics (39% vs. 29%); and Protestants (43% to 34%).McCain only leads among evangelical voters (61-17%) but that's only an 8% slice of the total electorate and McCain's lead has been falling even among that group.
The embarrassment for McCain is that his lead among evangelicals has nothing to do with his own campaigning which has not been reaching out to evangelicals since he denounced Rev. John Hagee in June. For all the good that John McCain's presidential campaign is doing in attracting votes, McCain might as well not be campaigning at all.
If McCain wants to be president, he has get a lot better at being something besides the "un-Obama."