Yet despite the sycophantic media frenzy, average Americans aren't yet convinced Obama's "change" is what they need. When it comes to identifying with the candidates' values, far more likely voters in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 58 percent, say they could identify with John McCain's background and values than with Obama's, 47 percent. And when it comes to their assessment of his knowledge and experience or his ability to be commander in chief, Obama's deficits in voters' minds are so great it's hard to imagine he can ever reassure them. Only 19 percent said he was the more knowledgeable and experienced candidate, and only one in four said he would make a better commander in chief.
Obama's decision to leave American shores this week in order to burnish his credentials was supposed to fix these problems, but it could backfire. John Kerry tried to convince voters that since the Europeans liked him more than George W. Bush, America would be better off electing him, only to find that sentiment didn't resonate on Election Day. If Obama can't outscore his opponent on the home court, he's not likely to win any points overseas.
Americans have seen far more of Obama than McCain in the last year, but they still aren't sure they know or fully trust him. The nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism found that Obama has led campaign coverage in 78 percent of stories since he clinched the nomination. The McCain campaign has even taken to mocking the obsequious attention the media have bestowed in an amusing web video featuring Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and clips of MSNBC's Chris Matthews telling viewers he fills "this thrill going up my leg" when Obama speaks.
Still, the election should be Obama's to lose. And he may yet convince voters to put aside any misgivings they have, but it's not clear how he is going to do it.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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