There’s some gloom and doom floating around, especially from those who were already in something of a gloom-and-doom place. Adam at Mighty Forces writes in Taking the high road:
Every time Barack Obama says some variation of “I trust the judgment of the American people,” I hear one word:
I feel bad for Adam. I think he’s suffering from Battered Voter Syndrome, identifying with his aggressor. I think it’s probably similar to what has brought John McCain to his current place (not speaking so much of his time in a Vietnamese prison cell, but of his defeat in the 2000 presidential election at the hands of the same cynical, dishonest operatives that he’s allied himself with now).
I don’t want to come off like a Pollyanna. But I think there’s plenty of reason for hope. I offer the following evidence:
1. The polls, and the fundamental rejection of the current administration. Not the day-to-day noise and the predictable (and predictably short-lived) post-convention bounce McCain is enjoying, but the deeper realities of what the numbers actually show, overall. This is not 2004. McCain is not Bush (his proposed policies notwithstanding). Obama is not Kerry.
I’m not convinced it’s really useful to pay too much attention to polls anyway, but if you’re going to, at least do it right; you can’t freak out over every jitter. See the following from Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com for an example of what I mean by “doing it right”: First look at the new electoral map.
At a macro level, these numbers seem like basically good news for Obama, since the overall numbers in swing states haven’t moved much at all – just shifted around some from region to region. McCain is polling about 3 points better right now than he was at the pre-convention equilibrium. It’s possible that those 3 points are manifesting themselves mostly in states that were already very red. Maybe Obama will lose Idaho and Nebraska and Alabama by 30 points rather than 20, but that doesn’t help McCain very much electorally (an exception might be in a state like Indiana).
In other words, I suspect that the probability of Obama winning the electoral college while losing the popular vote probably increased as a result of the post-convention dynamics. If you literally just looked at the polling out today, McCain would win the popular vote by 2-3 points, but Obama would probably be at least even money in the electoral college, by just barely holding onto Michigan and Pennsylvania and then either winning the Colorado/Iowa/New Mexico parlay, or perhaps Florida.
2. The comments of Talking Points Memo reader JA, as quoted by Josh Marshall in Change:
The McCain campaign wanted to frame this election on experience, but had to abandon that when the polls didn’t move. The surge issue has likewise attracted no great interest. Although McCain continues to discuss it, as a theme, he has ditched it in favor of this murky “change/reform” theme. (By selecting Sarah Palin, the campaign has officially ceded the point.) This all works to Obama’s advantage because if the discussion becomes one of change, it must necessarily shift to policy–the last place McCain wants to go. But he’s backed himself into a corner.
Obama has run his general campaign with exactly the kind of pacing he ran the primary. It’s not always clear why he’s doing certain things because they don’t correspond to the daily news cycle. That’s because he has planned the entire campaign in advance. You can see how he’s hit his marks as he’s gone along: after he won the primary, he immediately tacked right and demonstrated his “working across the aisles” theme. The trip abroad was designed to elevate him to a presidential figure and deflate the claims of his inexperience. The convention was a way to simultaneously build momentum among the base and lay a foundation for elevating the discussion above Rovian BS and placing it directly on issues via the change argument.
3. Jonathan Zasloff at The Reality-Based Community, in Don’t panic:
New national polls suggest that McCain has gotten a solid bounce out of the GOP convention. But let’s keep a few things in mind:
1) These polls suggest a race that is dead-even.
2) This is close to the high water-mark for the Republicans: all three polls were taken entirely after the convention.
3) There is no record of a convention bounce NOT fading.
In other words, Obama is still in very good shape. This hardly means anything is in the bag, but with the fundamentals so strongly leaning Democratic, I’d rather be in our position than theirs. They’ve had a week’s worth of uninterrupted campaign ads, and they still can’t establish a lead.
Give money. Go to Nevada. Go to New Mexico. Go to Virginia. Go to Ohio. Call. Knock on doors. We’re going to win this.
I’m not all sunshine-and-rainbows myself; I thought this contest would be over by now, and it’s clearly not. The McCain people have done a scarily good job of getting back into it.
But what we’ve basically got here is a reset. This is a time-out with two minutes remaining and the score tied. We can mope about the lead we used to have. We can beat ourselves up wondering why we’re not crushing the other guy, the way the pre-game scouting reports led us to think we would.
Or we can lace up our sneakers and get back on the court and win this thing.
Adam, I hope some of this helps you feel at least somewhat better. It may not be enough to lift your demons; demons are tricky that way. So I think I’ll leave you with some Coldplay. In a contest between demons and Coldplay, I’ll put my money on Coldplay every time:
Sing out, yeah
Oh, oh, yeah
Come on, yeah
And everything’s not lost