The polls continue to show Obama with roughly a five point lead over McCain and with Virginia holding steady in the Dem camp. In any other year, that would be sufficient to call the election for Obama and that could well be the case this year too. Barring a last-minute surge -- or, more important, the Bradley effect in which scores of white voters are essentially not telling pollsters their true feelings for fear of being thought racist -- Obama is close to home free.
This morning's Rasmussen tracking poll has Barack Obama back up by 5 (after being at 3) yesterday, while Zogby pegs the race at seven. Even accounting for a last-minute surge for John McCain, that puts Obama in excellent shape as of this morning. In electoral vote terms, he still holds a solid lead in Virginia of almost ten points.
The polls this morning are picking up a shift to John McCain -- the questions, of course, are how much, does it last, and whether, it's, in fact, accurate. All along we've predicted a last-week shift to the GOP -- as voters focused on their "fear of the unknown." But he still has a ways to go to catch-up.
We'll be previewing the race daily in the days before the election.
This week's analysis.
There's a great new book of history out, "The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960's," by two professors at Colby College in Maine -- G. Calvin MacKenzie and Robert Weisbrot. The book was obviously written before the current campaign but its relevance is obvious. MacKenzie's and Weisbrot's compelling thesis is that what really drove the zeitgeist of the 60's wasn't the counterculture but Washington -- namely all the legislative change produced in a flurry by John Kennedy and mostly by Lyndon Johnson.
John McCain cannot make an argument to save his life and he thinks like a senator. These attributes, combined with his age, make him the least impressive presidential debater in recent history. Barack Obama ran circles around him last night, making a GOP victory next month that much less likely.
The 2008 presidential election, while offering voters the clearest liberal vs. conservative choice since Carter-Reagan in 1980, may also be interpreted as a culture war. Sarah Palin's presence re-introduces the gender issue while adding on a small town vs. big city dynamic. Palin herself represents an internal gender conflict -- the outdoorsy "one-of-the-girls-who's-one-of-the-boys" vs.
No gaffes for Biden which is good news for Obama. But Palin was far better tonight than McCain was last Friday -- and more than passed tonight's test -- especially given the low expectations. She was trite at times, yes, but in a rather appealing, down to earth way. Tonight is unlikely to change the dynamics of the race since veep choices count for little.