View Full Version : Poll Position: Be Very Afraid,A democrat expert says: "This election just flipped.

09-09-2008, 07:50 PM
Poll Position: Be Very Afraid

NOW I GOT WORRY Obama (Photo: Getty Images) Oh no! The polls! They suddenly don't look good for Barack Obama! But does it really matter at this point? Should the campaign—and its supporters—start to panic? We checked in with two Democratic strategists who have different opinions on the situation. Here's the case for pessimism.

The jobless rate is up, home sales are down, and the Democrats have an appealing, history-making nominee. So that rash of McCain red, spreading like measles over the RealClearPolitics.com polling chart, is nothing to worry about—a temporary Republican sugar high, right?

Not so fast. Yes, this year's trends should favor the Democrats, with a poor economy and an unpopular Republican president. But we can't ignore how much the underlying landscape always favors the Republicans.

Sunday night, USA Today released a shocking poll that puts McCain four healthy points above 50%, leading Obama by 54%-44%, with only 2% undecided. Six other polls have McCain narrowly ahead or tied; none has Obama leading—a sharp reversal from last week.

If you hide behind electoral maps or statistical projections at your favorite number-crunching site, and ignore the national polls because "it's 50 state elections," you'll be lulled by projections based on weeks-old data, often conducted by middling polling operations. And you'll miss what's happened.

This election just flipped.

It's not "over," and Obama is far from doomed. But important dynamics were established over the summer, and especially the past 10 days, that help McCain tremendously.

Panic isn't helpful, but neither is denial. Actually, a little panic at Obama HQ would be prudent. An absence of panic means no lessons are being learned.

The biggest threat to Democrats winning the presidency—despite an economic agenda much better than the GOP's for the disengaged, downscale voters who decide elections—is always the decades-old perception by those voters that Democrats aren't "like them"—that they're culturally alien.

Bill Clinton was able to beat that tag, though he ultimately won more with his economic message than because of any stirring reaction to his "man from Hope" bio. But Republicans successfully attacked the basic American values of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. Both lost, despite favorable political winds