Still a Very Close Race


When John McCain was ahead and many Obama supporters were in the dumps, convinced that Sarah Palin would secure for the GOP four more years in the White House, I said that politics in America never goes in a straight line — particularly lately.
At the same time, the Obama team — which was on the verge of sorting out White House office assigments and wondering if the Bush pols were going to take the “O” keys off of keyboards — was just inevitably inevitable, just over the top confident. That is part of what did in Hillary Clinton’s campaign and overconfidence could undermine Obama.
But some quick numbers., an electoral map watcher, has Obama up 312 electoral votes over McCain at 226.
Gallup’s daily tracking poll has Obama up nationally at 48% over McCain at 44%.
InTrade’s prediction market, which has had McCain up for a while after Obama’s big slide down from 60%, has McCain down a little at 48.3 and Obama at 50.2. But InTrade has a new electoral map feature (that I like) with Obama at 278 electoral college votes and McCain at 260.
More soon — off to the Senate for this event on the economy.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Still a Very Close Race

  1. Zathras says:

    To Scott’s point upthread, my own view is that Democrats have erred precisely in seeking to make this election about things like McCain’s temperament, views on issues, how many cars he owns and so forth.
    McCain isn’t the one sitting on 25% approval ratings, nor is he the guy many American voters have gotten heartedly sick of on a personal level after the last eight years. During the 2000 election campaign, everyone understood that when the Republicans talked about restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House, they weren’t talking about Al Gore. The Democrats position is much more favorable now than the Republicans was then — with the additional factor now that Sen. Obama can better define his own style of governance and the things that matter most to him using a guy who has been President (George Bush) rather than a guy who hasn’t (John McCain) as his principle point of reference.
    Frankly, Obama’s campaign seems to me to be running the same kind of race against McCain that his people ran against Hillary Clinton, with two key differences. First, McCain has given Obama’s campaign more ammunition to work with. And second, the audience is much bigger, and includes many people for whom the “story” of Barack Obama is not so inspiring as to determine their vote.
    The above doesn’t represent any deep insight on my part. Barack Obama wouldn’t be a Presidential candidate at all if George Bush hadn’t been President. The Democrats would not have the advantages they do on most of the issues voters care about if George Bush hadn’t been President. George Bush, by this November, will have been more unpopular for longer than any President since the advent of modern polling. Given that, it seems common campaign sense to me for the Democrats to make this election as much about George Bush as possible. They haven’t done it.


  2. WigWag says:

    Barack Obama and John McCain are both elitists but Obama advertises his elitism and McCain works assidiously to hide it. Yes, if you marry the richest woman in Arizona you’re an elitist. But guess what, if you go to Harvard (even on a scholarship)and you teach at the University of Chicago Law School, you’re an elitist too.
    One way to stop coming across as the elitist you really are, would be to refrain from calling working people in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia “bitter.” And maybe not mocking them because they like to hunt or go to church would help. McCain may own more houses and cars than Obama but he’s not the one demeaning people with his rhetoric.
    Another thing a Democratic nominee should refrain from doing is suggesting that going to Harvard is a qualification. Most Americans don’t get to go to Harvard and many don’t even know where it is. When George W. Bush ran, he tried to hide the fact that he went to Yale. Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush because in that election Bush not Clinton looked like the elitist.
    A third thing to avoid would be attending a church where America is demeaned. You and I might think that Reverend Wright actually makes some good points; most working Americans don’t.
    A fourth thing a Democratic candidate might think about, is how accepting the nomination in a stadium in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans looks to average people. Especially in hard times, working people want a President they think will fight for them, not someone who behaves like a rock star. McCain got a much bigger bounce from his convention than Obama got. Why? Because the visuals of the Obama acceptance speech were abhorent.
    Most importantly, the Democratic nominee should run a campaign with a laser like focus on the economy. You remember Bill Clinton’s credo; “it’s the economy stupid!” It worked; he was elected twice. The first Democrat to do that in 50 years.
    The fact that Democrats don’t know how to appeal to working people is not the fault of the Republicans; it’s the fault of the Democrats.
    Pretending that the Democrats are innocent victims of the scary Republicans is just dumb.
    And it’s not true.


  3. questions says:

    Linda and Viktor Vaughn,
    Look at the NY Times piece today on Nemazee’s (sp) fundraising for Obama per HRC’s request — the part about calling Sara Lee whatever (heiress of the Sara Lee corp) — she claims that Obama’s ideas are too high for her. This is a f’ing heiress, and SHE thinks Obama is of the elite???? Right up there with the Lynn Rothschild banking heiress. Who knows why this is an issue. Gotta think race at some level???? Or some bizarre notion of what “elite” really means? Denial of one’s own elite identity?


  4. Linda says:

    Viktor Vaughn,
    Go back to the thread on Vague and read my exchanged with WigWag who is Left and not Right, and you will see how well the “elitist” labeling, first done by Clinton, works. Logic and reason have nothing to do with it. It taps into something emotional. Repeat something often enough, and if people want to believe it, they will.
    It’s all about marketing and branding and advertising. I have no idea how to stop it except for more drastic campaign reform.


  5. Scott says:

    Zathras, good points. It kind of blows my mind that Obama’s not doing better, given the reasons you state. To me, and hopefully to lots of other Americans, the policies that McCain advocates and the temperament he demonstrates just are not what we as a country need right now. Our problems call for the more ambitious Obama approach, as well as his steely, rational, pragmatic temperament. Hopefully this will come out in the debates.
    Viktor, also good points… but I imagine that once the media narrative gets set, it’s very hard to change.


  6. viktor vaughn says:

    One of the most infuriating things in this campaign is the Right (with some success) painting Obama as an “Elitist”. When are the Dems goin to turn this around? Where does someone like McCain who married an heiress, was legacied into Annapolis, owns 7 houses and 13 cars, get off calling Obama, raised by a single mother, an ELITIST?
    I can’t believe they get away with this.


  7. ... says:

    POA – ron paul was always quite astute with regard to financial dynamics as well.. do you know if he has been saying anything about the present demise of the us financial system? i would be curious to know his thoughts on it at this time.. thanks for sharing that tid bit from the ron paul chronicles.. i don’t suppose faux news will be giving us any coverage of it, lol!


  8. Zathras says:

    It’s too early for campaign post-mortems, obviously. It might even be the case that, this year, face-to-face televised debates might move many more votes than they have in recent elections, all of which featured either incumbent Presidents or Vice Presidents. Voters who to some degree regard both candidates as unknown quantities may be waiting to see them together before making up their minds.
    You have to wonder, though, whether a race as close as this one appears to be, — taking place at a time when the incumbent Republican President has nursed historically low approval ratings for a good two years, and in which the Republican candidate has embraced all of that President’s major policies — doesn’t constitute some kind of indictment of the campaign Barack Obama has chosen to run.
    I have never believed the election itself would end up being that close. All modern precedent suggests that President Bush’s unpopularity (and that of his party) will end up being a crushing handicap for Sen. McCain, whether Obama makes effective use of it or not. The same precedents suggest that this should be fully evident in polling data now, and it isn’t.


  9. Don Bacon says:

    The victor in Iraq is Iran, and Mahmoud knows it.
    NEW YORK — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Monday that the turmoil on Wall Street was rooted in part in U.S. military intervention abroad and voiced hope that the next American administration would retreat from what he called President Bush’s “logic of force.”


  10. ej says:

    With all the disasters (already happened or about to) from this administration facing the electorate square in the face, it is beyond me how the numbers could be so close.
    Either the population of the US is appallingly stupid, or hopelessly selfish, or blindly partisan, or the polls are wrong.
    I think it’s probably a combination of all those things to various degrees, throwing into the mix the effects of bigotry, but mostly the polls are flawed.
    I have no proof of this, but my instincts are telling me that the poll takers are not approaching the electorate correctly, either by design or not, and getting skewed results.


  11. Don Bacon says:

    Who knew that the heavily hyped “Global War on Terror” was simply a cover for a historic heist of trillions of dollars from the US treasury, now under the watchful eye of Hank Paulsen who is on loan from the mortgage-securitizing Goldman Sachs?
    Who knew? For an answer we might go back further than Ron Paul six years ago to Smedley Butler seventy years ago:
    “War is a racket . . .the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
    This new crisis is part of their grand plan, and is a wake-up call to end the phony GWOT as well as the careers of the criminals who engineered it, starting with Paulsen. His departure should be part of any remedy.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    September 23, 2008
    Whose Iraq Predictions Have Come True?
    by Rep. Ron Paul
    On Sept. 10, 2002, I asked 35 questions regarding war with Iraq. The war resolution passed on Oct. 16, 2002. Now today, as some of my colleagues try to reestablish credentials regarding spending restraint, I want to call attention to my 18th question from six years ago:
    “Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a $100 billion war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30-year occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to ‘build democracy’ there?”
    Many scoffed at my “radical” predictions at the time, regarding them as hyperbole. Six years later, I am forced to admit that I was wrong. My “radical” predictions were in fact, not “radical” enough.
    I warned of a draining 30-year occupation. Now, politicians glibly talk about a 100-year occupation as if it is no big deal. On cost, according to estimates from the Congressional Research Service, we have already burned through around $550 billion in Iraq, at a rate of about $2 billion per week. Economist Joseph Stiglitz’s estimates are even higher, at $12 billion a month. It is a total price tag quickly heading into the trillions, if we don’t stop bombing and rebuilding bridges in Iraq that lead us nowhere but bankruptcy! Bridges in this country are crumbling, along with our economy, while some howl about earmarks. Earmarks are a drop in the bucket compared to war and occupation.
    Yes, I was wrong about Iraq. I knew it would be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad.
    The American people deserve better. Being asked to endorse such a farce is beyond insulting. Clearly, the rosy predictions of the neoconservatives from before the war are not coming true. Far from it! With a straight face, one official estimated the TOTAL cost of reconstruction in Iraq would be just $1.7 billion. Turns out that we spend more than that in ONE WEEK. Our friends are not pitching in to cover the cost. Expenses are not being covered by oil from a grateful and liberated Iraqi people. Rather, big corporate interests are benefiting, the price of oil has more than quadrupled, and the American economy is on its knees and sinking fast.
    No one predicted the exact course of this war before it started. But to continue to listen to the foreign policy advice of those that were the MOST off-base will only lead to more foreign policy disasters. We need to keep this in mind as we think about Russia, Iran, Cuba, and other countries. Keep in mind – the doomsday predictions on the Iraq War from six years ago sound like a cakewalk today. What leaders in the administration had predicted reads like a fairy tale. Ask yourself, when listening to the same foreign policy “experts” explaining situations around the world and suggesting policy positions: In light of the facts of today, and the predictions of yesterday, how expert have they shown themselves to be?
    Passing HR 2605 to sunset authorization for the use of force in Iraq is the first step to stopping this bloody war, and the consequent bleeding of our treasuries. Serious fiscal conservatives will support it, as will those who have been paying attention to foreign policy predictions and reality.


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