From Jumping in Pools:
This might come across as a strange question for those on the left and the right. On the left, he was seen as a transcending figure whose popularity was due to America's sudden shift to "progressive values." Yeah right. To conservatives, it was a sign that a lot of Americans really didn't know what was going on.
But there are factors to show that Obama was perhaps less popular than Al Gore, John Kerry, or even George W. Bush in the 2008 election.
1. Bush was very unpopular, and Obama couldn't even reach 55%.
Take a look at Bush's approval ratings. Around election time in 2008, he was lucky if one pollster placed him above the 40% mark. Not to mention that about 60% of the nation disapproved. Under these circumstances, Obama should have easily peeled off those that disapproved-- instead he faced a tough fight among members of his own party.
2. McCain was disliked by many conservatives. Many stayed home.
The winner of the 2008 Republican nomination was someone who was demonized worse within his own party than by the Democrats. Hundreds of thousands of conservative and libertarian voters stayed home due to this fact. Would they have swung the election the other way? Probably not. But swinging a couple of states and reducing the margin from 7% to 4% would show the lack of Obama's true popularity. Keep in mind that voter turnout declined in 2008...
Read the rest at Jumping in Pools here