Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Polls and possibilities

As of today, the Real Clear Politics poll average shows Barack Obama at 47.8%, John McCain at 43.3%.

Obama has just weathered two months of unceasing bad press, beginning with the first ABC News story about Jeremiah Wright on March 13. Then there was Bittergate (April 11), his poor performance in the Philadelphia debate (April 16), his defeat in Pennsylvania (April 22), Wright's media tour (April 25-28) and flag-stomping Bill Ayers (May 5).

After all this, then, Obama holds an average lead of more than 4 points in eight polls done since April 30. Moreover, in two of those polls (CBS and ABC) Obama hit 51%. McCain has not hit 50% in a head-to-head matchup with Obama since an early January USA Today poll.

With even James Carville now ready to stick a fork in Hillary Clinton's campaign, and an Obama-McCain general-election contest now all but certain, those polls should give pause to pundits who are busy plotting scenarios in which John McCain wins in November.

Is a McCain victory even possible?

Well, anything is possible, I suppose, but it's hard to see it as a likely scenario. Bush's approval numbers continue to reach new nadirs, the wrong-track numbers are near the 80% level, and Democrats have a double-digit edge in generic congressional numbers.

So far as polls can forecast, then, Republicans are sailing for a November electoral disaster on the scale of 1964 or '74. Meanwhile, we see the GOP standard-bearer distancing himself still further from the party's conservative base, e.g., endorsing the global warming hoax.

What we don't see, however, is conservative pundits bluntly acknowledging this pessimistic picture, or naming names in terms of who is responsible for the startling decline of GOP fortunes since 2004.

On Jan. 20, 2005, the political forecast was for continued Republican dominance. Within 22 months, however, the GOP lost its congressional majority. The party establishment apparently learned nothing from that mid-term defeat, and so the downward spiral of Republican fortunes appears likely to continue this fall. By Jan. 20, 2009, Democrats will control the White House and both houses of Congress, and the GOP will be right back where it was in 1993.

If conservative pundits do not begin assessing blame for this looming debacle, other pundits will. And those other pundits will blame . . . conservatives.

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