According to this Rasmussen poll, bigot Jeremiah Wright has done some damage to Barack Obama, although it's difficult to tell how long-lasting.
The good news for Obama is that his numbers have stopped falling since his speech on Tuesday. The bad news is that they haven’t bounced back.
In the week before the media frenzy over Wright, Obama and McCain were essentially tied in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Less than a week later, and two days after Obama’s speech, McCain had opened a seven-point lead over Obama. Significantly, by Thursday’s polling, McCain had pulled slightly ahead of Obama among unaffiliated voters. McCain also enjoys unified support from Republican voters while Obama only attracts 65% of Democratic votes at this time.
Obama’s favorable ratings have also fallen below the 50% mark since the world learned of his former Pastor. This can be seen as part of a larger trend that began shortly after Obama’s victories in the Wisconsin Primaries. At that time, just before Hillary Clinton began raising questions about her competitor, Obama was viewed favorably by 56% of voters nationwide. That had slipped to 52% just before Pastor Wright’s views became big news and to 47% just before Obama’s speech. Two days after the speech, Obama’s favorables remain at 48%.
My crystal ball is pretty foggy these days, but these poll numbers tell me a couple of things. First, like Shelby Steele noted, some of Obama's appeal has been in what characeristics people project onto him. That is, how much they identify with him, his views and opinions, his experiences and so on. As we learn more about Obama's behavior, his scant legislative record, his associations (such as Wright), that picture of Obama is changing and becoming less a reflection of what supporters what to see in Obama and more of who Obama actually is. This isn't to say that many supporters won't or don't like who Obama is; it's simply saying that he's an untried commodity and the general dissatisfaction with government among the electorate makes him more attractive that way.
The second thing that these numbers don't tell us is how long-lasting the bigot Wright's speeches will have on Obama's popularity. Already, there's this FOX poll, which says that a majority of people don't believe that Obama agrees with Wright's views. This is the argument Jeromy Brown has tried to make: it's ok to hang out with a bigot for 20 years as long as you don't march in the streets with him. I don't believe that for a minute. I'd like to see a press conference where reporters asked Obama if he thinks the government invented AIDS to get rid of black people or if Obama agrees with other batshit crazy statements by Wright on Israel (link courtesy of Common Sense Political Thought).
Jeromy accused me of wanting to "tar him with an angry black man talking crazy shit that we’ve all heard angry black folks talk before, and getting white people to be afraid." But the fact is, Obama chose to listen to this for 20 years. There's no evidence--other than his speech the other day--that he didn't agree with Wright. And I'm not just talking about publicly denouncing and embarrassing Wright. I don't tolerate bigots, but I can understand that others don't have my intestinal fortitude. I'm still looking for the witnesses who will tell us about Obama shaking his head and telling them that he disagreed with some scintilla of Wright's blather.
This is why I don't buy the argument that Obama didn't ever, ever agree with Wright's hyperbole. A better argument, IMO, would be to ask what effect that agreement would have on Obama's presidency. Perhaps it would have none; perhaps it would have a lot. It certainly goes against the "unity" talk.
Regardless, November is a long time away, and there will be more. Oh, wait. There already is.
What happened to that articulate guy who wanted to unite all of us? Psst. This ain't the way to do it, even if Melissa McEwan has decided that we're all racists. Maybe that's the sort of unity Obama is going for.