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McCain's campaign

Upon seeing the gauges, Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass said, "You can use it to check all the hot air coming out of [McCain's] Straight Talk Express.

A senior adviser handed out gauges on McCain's campaign plane and they were passed out outside Obama's energy speech in Lansing, Michigan, on Monday.

"They think it's funny that they're making fun of something that is actually true," Obama said Tuesday in Ohio. "They need to do their homework."

The Indiana senator

The Indiana senator, who introduced Obama, has been at the heart of the VP buzz. Political pundits had speculated that Obama might tap him to be No. 2 as early as this week because of their joint appearance.

Bayh, a former two-term governor of Indiana, was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Advocates of an Obama-Bayh ticket say he'd help unify the party and could shore up some of Obama's weak spots because of his time on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

Happy Birthday, Barack Obama

"Happy Birthday, Barack Obama," read the note that came in the package from the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. "In celebration of Barack Obama's special day, the RNC is sending you an important gift in his honor."

It then quotes Obama's contention that properly inflated tires would save as much energy as could be gained by increased drilling.

"Instead of actually increasing America's domestic oil supply, this is how Obama thinks you should try to alleviate your pain at the pump," the note ends, with "best wishes" from the RNC.

The gauges were sent to producers from the five major TV networks and most print reporters. They came in several colors, including gold, blue and green.

a slight plurality

Close to half (48%) of Pew's interviewees went on to say that they have been hearing too much about Obama lately. And by a slight, but statistically significant margin - 22% to 16% - people say that recently they have a less rather than more favorable view of the putative Democratic nominee.

In contrast, if anything, Pew's respondents said they want to hear more, not less about the Republican candidate. Just 26% in the poll said they had heard too much about McCain, while a larger number (38%) reported that they had heard too little about the putative Republican candidate. However, as for Obama, a slight plurality reports that recently they have come to have a less favorable view of McCain rather than a more favorable view of him - (23% to 18%).

head-to-head national polls

Here is some additional data to consider when pondering the strength of Obama’s current campaign.

I’ve calculated the average of the 15 most recent head-to-head national polls and Obama’s average is 47.2 and John McCain’s is 43.0. In three of these 15 polls Obama hit the 50 percent threshold (50 twice and 51 once).

I then calculated the average of the 15 polls taken in the 2004 Bush-Kerry race at roughly equivalent times in campaign season (the Democratic convention was at the end of July in 2004, so I pushed back the 15-poll average to just before that convention).

The media has covered Obama more than McCain

The media has covered Obama more than McCain every week since the race narrowed to the presumptive nominees, except for last week when the coverage balanced out, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The Pew report also shows that Republicans and Democrats think Obama's television advertisements have been mostly positive, while both parties believe McCain's have been mostly negative. However, Republicans are less likely to call McCain's ads negative, similar to how Democrats are more likely to call Obama's positive.