Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Looking at the Tuesday Polls

Well, it certainly looks good for Obama.

Yesterday, CBS/NYTimes came out with a poll that had Obama 52, McCain 39. That's the biggest Obama lead but could be even bigger than it looks if the 3 point margin of error is taken into account. Counting margin of error, the CBS poll ranges from Obama 55-36 to Obama 49-42.

What's interesting about the CBS poll is that it has McCain tracking down around the minimum Republican vote of 38% that was established by George H. W. Bush in the 1992 election where Ross Perot ran.

If the CBS poll is right, McCain is scraping the Republican bottom.

My own initial prediction was Obama 57, McCain 43 and the CBS poll is on track for that kind of landslide. GW/Battleground, ABC, and one of the Gallup estimates also have Obama out front by ten or more.

But I'm not going to be distracted by either self-interest or good news. At this point, I tend to agree with Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com that CBS is likely a bit of an outlier and that Obama's actual lead is somewhere around 8%.

Assuming some margin of error here, I think Obama's lead ranges from 5 to 11 points.

If that's the case, the Obama campaign should continue doing pretty much what it's doing--performing well in tonight's debate, using its financial advantage to blanket battleground states with television ads, and gearing up its massive ground game,.

What Obama's doing is working. So the Obama people should keep doing it.

What about the McCain campaign? The McCain campaign should assume that McCain's only down by 5 and that he needs to shave that lead down to 2 over the next two weeks.

If they can get a strong debate performance from the candidate, the McCain campaign could run a two level campaign and it looks like they've already started.

At the top and visible level, the McCain people could run a "nice" campaign in which they have McCain and his lead surrogates (Joe Lieberman, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham) emphasize McCain's sacrifices, experience, and general orientation toward low taxes and a strong military.

Such a Republican brand campaign has a lower value than it used to, but still might be good for a couple of points.

At the gutter level, the McCain people can count on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the conservative media to engage in racist fear-mongering. Limbaugh came out with a racist rant just yesterday while Stanley Kurtz of NRO did his best to create another bridge from Obama to Jeremiah Wright.

It's ugly bigoted stuff, but it's not like Republicans haven't done it before.

It's still plausible that the combination of nice conservativism and gutter conservatism could move the poll numbers a modest 5% over the next three weeks and give McCain a squeaker win.

But I don't think the McCain people will be able to turn the tide. To boil it all down, nominating Sarah Palin poisoned the water for a traditional Republican campaign.

At this point, I'd say it's most likely that Obama's going to win.

And he deserves it.

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

I didn't see an appropriate blog entry to post this, so...

I don't believe that Obama needs to continue apologizing or denouncing anyone who says something McCain does not like. Rep. Lewis and Jesse Jackson are the most recent examples of Obama being asked to renounce their statements. Since these folks are not formal members of the Obama campaign and not closely tied to Obama, is he responsible for their words? Or is he really being asked to apologize for the black community's actions just because he, too, appears/is black? I believe this is McCain's way of reminding voters that Obama is black. What do you think?