PRINCETON, NJ — Barack Obama has expanded his lead over John McCain in the Tuesday through Thursday Gallup Poll Daily tracking rolling average, and now has a 47% to 41% advantage over his Republican challenger.

I’m admittedly not a big poll watcher at this stage in elections. I find them utterly useless, actually. I do like to watch for bumps and try to relate that to narratives or events of a given week, though. Obviously Obama’s overseas trip comes to mind here. Hard to say this is a bump from that – we’ll have to wait until next week to really see – but it is interesting still that McCain’s lack of a clear message and failure to grasp the media’s attention has at least put Gallup back where it was in June when Obama had a 7 point advantage.

I do find this interesting, though, and it’s precisely where I think we’re headed (and where the real value of this trip can be found):

It’s even possible that Obama’s trip, while not having an immediate effect on tracking numbers, could lay the mental groundwork in the minds of voters to the point where they are more open to an Obama presidency at some point in the future (such as the Democratic convention). In particular, this might occur if his trip removes doubts voters might have about his ability to handle international affairs.

That’s exactly it. People will begin to ask themselves about international affairs at some point when they are convinced he is the best choice domestically (and they will…it is, afterall, the economy stupid). They ask themselves if he is capable of handling international affairs and they look back (or be reminded) that he indeed can. That’s the real value in this trip is taking out the unknown so that the GOP can’t use it against him. He’s a known entity in the world and has now demonstrated to us here at home that he can get things done globally as well as nationally.

It will be fun to watch the coalescence.

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