This is the first time McCain has enjoyed even a statistically insignificant advantage of any sort since Obama clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3. . . .Allah: "It has to be the ads." Perhaps. Or perhaps weeks of relentless pounding by Team Maverick have gradually made Americans aware of the fact that Obama is a liberal who has only been in the Senate for three years and whose energy "plan" consists primarily of a Carteresque "windfall profits tax."
A week ago today, Obama had a three-percentage point lead and the candidates were even among unaffiliated voters. Today, McCain leads 52% to 37% among unaffiliateds.
On the other hand, maybe Gergen's right: It's all about the "code."
UPDATE: Gallup has the trend moving the other way, with Obama now ahead 46%-43%, but that's registered voters, not "likely" voters as in the Rasmussen poll. Big difference.
UPDATE II: A good way to verify that I'm not just engaged in self-validated gloating is to check the lefty bloggers:
I've had a bad feeling about the direction of the campaign for the past couple weeks. . . . The latest tracking polls seem to indicate that McCain's negative attacks are having an impact. The corollary is that Obama's response hasn't been working, or at least it hasn't been enough.The lefty makes the good point that national polls can be misleading because, ultimately, it comes down to getting to 270 the Electoral College and, as Allah noted, "The same Rasmussen poll puts the electoral college at Obama 273, McCain 227."
However, if Obama melts down in national polls, he'll also go down with swing voters in swing states -- and it's these voters who are being targeted heavily by McCain's attack ads. So a steady downward trend for Obama nationally would, eventually, be mirrored in swing-state polls. It would just take more time, because (a) Obama began with a substantial lead in most swing states, (b) states are not polled on a daily basis, and (c) Obama's targeting his own ads in these swing states, too, so that voters are being whipsawed by attack-and-counterattack.
The current poll trend means mainly that Obama's under pressure. His foreign trip was a flop that gained him nothing, while fueling the "arrogance" narrative. A negative poll trend takes the wind of "inevitability" out of his sails, and puts him on the defensive.
This is the point in the campaign when screaming matches at headquarters start to break out, where fingers of blame are being pointed, and people start looking for a scapegoat. Let Obama slip a few more points, and you'll start hearing "shakeup" rumors.