The trends heavily favored the Democrats, especially after their major gains in 2006. Overall, Democrat candidates have a +10% advantage over Republicans in a 'generic' election - the current unpopular President is a Republican, and the economy is treading water. Also, based on statistical percentages of articles on each candidate, Obama was being focused on by the press far more than McCain. When McCain chastised Obama for his lack of foreign policy experience and that he hadn't been to Iraq or Afghanistan in years, Obama's campaign set up for him to take a trip to both countries. While this is expected in politics, the decision of every major network to send a team of reporters to follow him was unprecedented. Obama spoke to 200,000 people in Berlin in a highly covered speech. McCain spoke to 50,000 in Buffalo shortly thereafter and barely got a whisper. Obama's numbers started to rise, but a good deal of the populace was noticing the disparity as 48% of those polled felt the press was trying to help Obama win.
Obama seemed pleased to coast on his advantages, but McCain realized he needed to shake things up. He scored by pushing offshore drilling for oil during a time when oil prices were climbing almost daily. Obama rejected the idea, but the poll numbers started to show a greater percentage of Americans warming to the concept<ref>[http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/61_say_congress_should_vote_on_offshore_drilling_right_now Offshore Drilling poll]</ref> and McCain's numbers started to improve. Obama announced he would accept some measure of offshore drilling, and McCain's momentum was halted and his gains retreated by a couple of points. McCain started an ad campaign that acknowledged Obama's celebrity status, but asking what it meant. A few days later at the start of August he called out Obama for 'playing the race card' when Obama made a reference to McCain and Bush trying to scare people because he (Obama) doesn't look like other Presidents on dollar bills. The Democrats fired back, but quickly let the issue drop when poll numbers showed that most voters did consider Obama's statement to be racist.<ref>http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/only_22_say_mccain_ad_racist_but_over_half_53_see_obama_dollar_bill_comment_that_way</ref> The bounce for Obama after the Berlin speech shrank back to pre-trip levels. While Obama continued to enjoy a slight lead in the polls, McCain continued to keep the race close without either candidate breaking away.
In mid-August, both candidates came together at the invitation of Pastor [[Rick Warren]] where each was asked a series of the same questions dealing both with political and personal views. While not a debate, it was the first televised forum where both candidates had a chance to express themselves and their positions. Obama hoped to appeal to Christian conservatives by expressing a religious side while McCain hoped to solidify the conservative base by sharing his own conservative and religious credentials. The difference in style between the two was evident as Obama spent more time explaining and expounding on his positions while McCain was more straightforward and received more laughs with his candid speaking style. The polling numbers continued as they had been.