Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BounceWatch continues

Two weeks after the final Democratic primary, the Obama bounce still stubbornly fails to materialize. The poll numbers have stabilized, with a slender Obama lead in the latest Gallup tracking poll:
The presidential campaign may be entering a period of somnolence in these summer weeks prior to the late August and early September conventions in Denver and St. Paul. The candidates will be valiantly attempting to break into voters' consciousness by staging news events and announcements in the weeks ahead -- as was the case with the endorsement of Barack Obama by former vice president Al Gore in Michigan on Monday night -- but how much these types of events will affect voter preferences remains to be seen.
What is important here is what has not happened. The electorate's putative hunger for "change," which was the entire rationale of the Obama insurgency, has not been reflected in a post-primary surge of support toward the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Maybe the anticipated Obama tsunami has merely been delayed, and next week he'll open up an insuperable double-digit lead. But I'm begin to doubt it. Call it a hunch.

UPDATE: Linked by Allahpundit, who has more. By the way, notice the grim pessimism for which Allahpundit is renowned. The great thing about pessimism, as George Will observed, is that you're seldom disappointed, and sometimes pleasantly surprised.

UPDATE II: Latest state polls:
  • MN: Obama 47, McCain 46
  • KY: McCain 53, Obama 41
  • VA: Obama 45, McCain 44
  • NC: McCain 45, Obama 41
All of these results are good news for McCain, with the possible exception of Virginia:
  • Given the 93% total in Minnesota, I suspect that polls includes "leaners"; Obama's under 50% and McCain's neck-and-neck, so that's good news in an industrial Midwest state.
  • Obama didn't even bother to campaign in the Kentucky primary, and McCain looks safe there.
  • Obama actually made a campaign trip to North Carolina last week, but it seems to have had no impact; the state still looks like it will stay reliably Republican.
  • Virginia is a special case. It's been GOP presidential territory for decades, but the Virginia Republicans have stumbled badly the past few cycles, with some help from "Macaca." Given the Democratic trend in the state -- which is chiefly a function of a Yuppie influx in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia -- for McCain to be roughly even at the outset could be considered good news. However, if Obama picks former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner as his running mate, it could turn into a real fight.
In other words, there is no evidence that Obama's nomination has remade the electoral landscape, or that there is any overwhelming surge toward the Democrats. As has been true in both of the past two elections, a rough equality in party strength at a national level -- which the general electorate split near 50-50 -- translates into an Electoral College advantage for the Republicans.

Why? Because Democratic voters are overwhelmingly concentrated in a few large states -- California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, etc. -- and the party's message has limited appeal outside those liberal bastions. Helped by Republican scandals and blunders, Democrats have had some success outside their core regions in recent years by running congressional and statewide candidates on centrist messages. There is, however, no evidence so far that Obama's presidential candidacy can follow on that success.

Obama is a liberal, and to the extent that he is perceived as a liberal, the chances are that he will suffer an electoral fate similar to previous liberal Democratic presidential candidates.

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