Michael Cooper and Megan Thee's analysis of the latest NYT/CBS poll is the Times' lead story Wednesday, blaring good news for the Obama campaign: He's now leading by 14 points, 53%-39% (other polls show Obama with a more modest lead of 5-10 points). The Times predictably blames McCain's attacks on Obama's associates for his slide in the polls, as shown by the headline: "Poll Says McCain Hurts His Bid by Using Attacks."
The McCain campaign's recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.
After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.
Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.
After several weeks in which the McCain campaign sought to tie Mr. Obama to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground terrorism group, 64 percent of voters said that they had either read or heard something about the subject. But a majority said they were not bothered by Mr. Obama's background or past associations. Several people said in follow-up interviews that they felt that Mr. McCain's attacks on Mr. Obama were too rooted in the past, or too unconnected to the nation's major problems.
Compare and contrast these questions from the Times' actual poll. Not only do they conflate (once again) a domestic terrorist (Ayers) with a shady financier (Charles Keating of the infamous Keating Five), but leave open for debate whether Obama was "associated with Bill Ayers" at all.
61. How much have you heard or read about the allegation by the McCain campaign that Barack Obama was associated with Bill Ayers, a former member of the radical domestic group called the Weathermen - a lot, some, not much, or nothing at all?
The response (as the story noted, 64% of respondents had heard either "a lot" or "some" about the issue) indicates the controversy over Ayers has penetrated people's consciousness, despite the best efforts of the Times and the rest of the media to discourage the McCain campaign from raising the issue.
Contrast the previous poll question about Ayers, in which the domestic terrorist and Obama friend is merely "alleged" by the McCain campaign to be associated with Obama, to the straightforward presentation of McCain's ties to the ancient Keating Five controversy:
63. How much have you heard or read about John McCain's involvement as one of the five senators known as the Keating Five in the savings and loan controversy in the late 1980s and early 1990s - a lot, some, not much, or nothing at all?