Having clinched the nomination, Barack Obama enjoys a statistically significant lead over Arizona Republican John McCain in the major general election tracking polls:
Gallup -- PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama has a 48% to 41% lead in the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking presidential election trial heat, based on June 7-9 polling.
and Rasmussen -- The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows Barack Obama attracts 48% of the vote while John McCain earns 40%. When “leaners” are included, Obama leads 50% to 43%. Those figures represent a modest one-week bounce for Obama. Last Tuesday, just before the Illinois Senator clinched the nomination, the candidates were tied at 46%....
We can only expect Obama's lead to inch up 2 or 3 more points as Clinton supporters join the Party. These numbers, of course, are bound to change before November, but are a good staring point, as McCain has been free to campaign for 3 months. Obama just started last week, and major voter registration and turnout drives and paid media campaigns will only bolster his numbers. Don't forget, Obama will have a substantial fundraising advantage.
Of course, attacks will be thrown and Republican nastiness unfurled. John Kerry enjoyed a similar lead in some polls during the spring of 2004. What's different? First, Obama is a much better politician than Kerry. Second, Republicans (and their economic policy) are much less popular than they were then. Combine those with ever-more-favorable demographic trends and a unique fund raising advantage (which Kerry did not have), and you can almost see Barack Obama being inaugurated now.