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It's more bad news for Barack Obama as an MSNBC poll shows him maintaining a six point lead over John McCain in a political climate when he should be leading by sixty points. Another couple of months of this consistently beating his opponent, and Obama's really going to be in panic mode!

Interestingly, "Obama’s lead over McCain expands to 13 points when third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are added into the mix -- with Obama at 48 percent, McCain at 35 percent, Nader at 5 percent and Barr at 2 percent." I'm not sure what the implications are of including third party candidates in the poll this early in the process but since Nader and Barr are in fact in the race that does seem relevant. More broadly, the poll probably explains why Obama's campaign isn't assailing McCain as furiously as some folks I know would like -- the public is already pretty persuaded of the case against McCain and Obama's greater political need is to further burnish his own image.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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