All the daily blocking and tackling over things like McCain's number-of-houses gaffe can easily lead you to forget the larger context in which this campaign is playing out. A new Pew poll offers a bracing reminder, laying out in detail just how dramatic the Democrats' generic advantage over the GOP in party identification and image is is right now.
The poll finds that among registered voters, the Democratic Party has a 13-point lead in party affiliation (51%-38%) when independent "leaners" are included. Our handy Election Central calculator tells us that means that more than half of registered voters self-identify with the Democratic Party. That seems striking.
The "image" numbers are also good for the Dems. Fifty-seven percent say they view the Democratic Party favorably, while 37% view it unfavorably. By contrast, only 43% view the GOP favorably, while a plurality of 49% rate it unfavorably. That's another big advantage for Obama.
The rest of the poll is here.
The larger point here is that for the Dems, the goal of the convention is partly to get voters to vote in line with their views of the two parties as expressed in this poll -- their platforms, policies, and performance. The GOP, of course wants the election to be about Obama's allegedly untested character and his all-around otherness, precisely because of numbers like the ones in this poll.But a successful Dem convention could foil this plan by neutralizing whatever fears and/or suspicions people have about Obama's heritage and whatever doubts about his character have been implanted in their heads by the GOP, allowing the Dems' huge built-in advantage to assert itself on Election Day. That's key to what's really at stake next week.