In a desperate attempt to keep this race from looking like the blowout it currently is, reporters and other media types have been asking why Obama's lead isn't bigger than it is. After all, they say, everything favors him--the economic climate, the public's stance on the war, George W. Bush's favorability ratings, and so on. He ought to be blowing McCain out of the water.
Well, he is, even using the polling models that are, in some part, based on guesswork. I mean, how do you poll a national contest when there's a candidate like Obama in the race? He's a first--how will that affect turnout? Will he draw new voters to the polls? Will there be a backlash? Who knows?
But even based on that, Obama holds a massive lead. CNN's poll of polls currently has Obama up by five points. That doesn't sound like a lot, but look at it in terms of vote totals, and it gets huge. By way of comparison, in 2004, just over 120 million people voted for President. Even if we assume that turnout is flat for 2008 (and there's no reason to expect that), a five-point lead translates to roughly 6 million votes. No one would look at a 6 million vote win and call it close, but five points makes it seem like it's within reach.
How about historically? In 2004, George W. Bush won by about half that margin in raw votes, and while it didn't reach the mandate levels he claimed, it was a decisive win. But in 1996, Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by over 8 million votes, by over 8 percentage points in a three-way race, and that was a resounding win for him. Obama's lead falls in the middle of that right now, which isn't half bad, considering, as One Drop does, that Obama is "a biracial Democrat with a Muslim-sounding name" running against a "white male Republican war veteran."