DENVER—Many voters still have doubts about Barack Obama because he apparently hasn't connected very well with them and hasn't demonstrated enough sensitivity to their problems, but the country's desire for change goes so deep that Obama will win the presidential election anyway, says Democratic pollster and former Hillary Clinton strategist Geoff Garin.
"He may not be exactly 'like us' [in the minds of some voters] but the country is in a world of hurt," Garin told U.S. News. "There are more than enough voters to take him as he is."
"The main goal this week is not really to define Obama or define [John] McCain," Garin says. "It's really to define the choice—what's the election about? The campaign that does that the best wins the election."
In 2004, George W. Bush successfully defined the election as a contest about who could better fight terrorism and keep the country safe. He won that battle against Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who was pilloried for being weak and indecisive.
In 1996, Bill Clinton defined the election as a contest about who could best build a "bridge to the 21st Century." He defeated aging Republican Sen. Bob Dole.
This year, Obama is trying to make the election about the future, as Clinton did, while GOP candidate John McCain is trying to make the election about protecting America in a dangerous world, as Bush did.
Garin says most voters will choose Obama because they will consider him a better leader "in a world of high-velocity change." Obama's challenge this week is to make that case, and to portray the choice as "change vs. more of the same."
Garin talked to U.S. News in Denver, where he was attending the Democratic convention.