As we wait for Obama to announce his running mate, here some thoughts about the political situation as it stands now.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
1) The crisis in Georgia seems to be helping McCain. As people get worried about Russian aggression, they turn to the man they THINK will be able to handle it. For some reason, getting shot down, imprisoned and tortured is good preparation for high level diplomacy. It's all about the American working class's fetishizing of the military - a trait actively encouraged by the Republican party. Obama is still essentially tied in national polls but more worrying he's now tied in swing states he was ahead in (like Ohio) and according to real clear politics (see link to the right), he's now just barely winning the electoral college. Before the Russian invasion of Georgia, Obama was looking to get way over 300 electoral votes.
2) Most of these polls are not including either Nader or Bob Barr. But the first poll I've seen that does include both of these potential spoilers shows that once again, Nader's Raiders are far more likely to damage the Democrats than Barr will be to damage the Republicans. The LA Times did a poll that shows that Nader is getting about 4% while Barr is only getting 1%.
3) Obama still has a decisive lead in enthusiasm among his supporters. According to the same LA Times poll (see link in item 2), 78% of Obama supporters are "enthusiastic" about their candidate compared to only 61% of McCain supporters. The flip side is more worrying for McCain. 20% of Obama supporters are unenthusiastic supporters. 38% of McCain's people are unenthusiastic.
4) Obama continues to have a huge fundraising advantage. In July he raised $51 million and has $65.8 million cash on hand. McCain had his best month in July (helped in part by a huge pay off from big oil companies for advocating off shore drilling) raising $27 million but only having $21 million cash on hand (McCain went into debt in June). The DNC and RNC have different fortunes. The RNC is barely out raising the DNC. The RNC raised $26 million in July and has $75 million cash on hand. The DNC raised $22 million and a similar figure for cash on hand. Keep in mind that the RNC will want to devote a lot of their money to keeping Republicans in office down ticket.
5) Obama is running adds that directly target blue collar voters in the rust belt (Ohio, Michigan, Western Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin). There is the "hands" ad that LTG dismisses as all potatoes and windmills. Then there is Obama's new "economic plan" ad. In contrast, McCain is running a combination of attack ads and ads aimed at convincing people that he "feels their pain" with his "broken" ad. And Obama is responding with ads showing McCain begging for primary votes by bragging about his ties to Bush - like this.
Here is the problem with McCain's ads. The first one starts with a cheering multitude chanting Obama's name. The second one starts with a down note that admits that the status quo sucks - a status quo that most Americans blame on the Republicans, and especially George W. Bush. What's more the "broken" ad is vulnerable to exactly the response that Obama's people have come out with, namely quotations by McCain himself bragging about how close he is to Bush.
Summary) I think Obama's troubles, such as they are, are related to the crisis in Georgia. I'm assuming that will be resolved and at least off the front pages relatively soon - probably before the end of the month. Obama's got better ads than McCain and he's quicker and better at counter punching than Kerry. And Obama's got a lot more money. Who Obama picks as his VP will tell us a lot about what his campaign expects the last stage of the election to be about. Will he pick a foreign policy name with lots of gravitas, like Biden? Will he pick another "outsider" like Sebelius? Will he sacrifice control over his own presidency for the sake of buying the Clintons' support? Or will he pick the Latino with the killer resume, Richardson? Some potential candidates let him do several things at once. For example, I think Jim Webb (Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Navy and retired Marine officer and Vietnam War vet with a chest full of medals) would kill several birds with one stone. He's also from Virginia. And although he's only in his first term in the Senate it would be difficult for the Republicans to say he doesn't have experience since he was in Reagan's cabinet. At the same time, he's not someone who's been known as an insider so he has an "outsider" and independent appeal that would be useful to Obama's change message.
This post got a lot longer than I thought it would. I'll stop now.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:36 AM