Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where they are, where they aren't

Maybe this will ease Jane Fonda's nerves:
NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) sends along this observation: "Forget the polls, just look at what the candidates are doing and where they are spending money." At this time in 2004, he notes, Kerry-Edwards were campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Florida. In 2000, Gore-Lieberman were in the states of Missouri and Ohio, as well as in Florida. But in 2008, Obama and Biden AREN'T campaigning in Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Wisconsin. Instead, they’re in Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, as well as the perennials of Ohio and Florida. "You do not have to read poll numbers -- just look at their travel schedule," Hart tells First Read. And as we learned yesterday, the Obama campaign is now spending money in Arizona, Georgia, and North Dakota.
The momentum clearly favors the illegal alien's nephew. And of course, the Blame Sarah First crowd has already picked out their scapegoat. Just in case the Palin-bashers need a reminder, here's what I wrote on Sept. 8:
Saturday [Sept. 6], Zogby reported McCain-Palin with a 50-46 percent lead over Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden. Sunday morning Rasmussen found the race a dead heat, and Gallup showed McCain pulling ahead 48-45 percent among registered voters -- "McCain's largest advantage over Obama since early May," Gallup noted. Late Sunday evening, a fresh round of polling from Gallup showed McCain had widened the margin to 4 points among registered voters -- and had a whopping 10-point lead (54-44 percent) among likely voters.
As important as the latest numbers were the trends the tracking polls revealed. Obama actually gained in the immediate wake of the Palin announcement, booming ahead by 8 points (Gallup) and 6 points (Rasmussen) as the media slammed the new Republican running mate. However, once America saw Palin speak for herself -- in a broadcast whose ratings nearly equaled Obama's own "Barackopolis" acceptance speech in Denver -- voters apparently surged toward the GOP.
Given a chance to speak for herself, then, Palin was an immediate hit, and as I reported from Ohio Sept. 10, she became "The Sweetheart of the Heartland." By Sept. 15, Democrats were ready to hit the panic button.

What went wrong, then? I've explained this several times, but now -- as the campaign nears its end -- I want to reiterate the narrative once more: From a 1-point Gallup lead on Sept. 16, McCain went to a 10-point deficit by Oct. 10 -- a period of time that covered all three Obama-McCain debates. And it was during that same time period that McCain repeatedly endorsed a big-government approach to the financial crisis. As late as Sept. 24, it was still a three-point race. By Sept. 29 -- after McCain's push for the bailout and after the first debate Sept. 26 -- Obama led by 8 points. Attempting to hang this around Sarah Palin's neck is not merely unfair, it's absurdly counterfactual. Clearly, she was never consulted in any of these decisions, including the pullout from Michigan.

The McCain's campaign rejection of "libertarian populism," its refusal to acknowledge the morality of markets, its preference for economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin's big-government approach to the financial crisis, was the proximate cause of this impending disaster. I know that thousands are praying for a Republican miracle on Nov. 4, but with Obama up by 10 in the latest Gallup, it's important to brace yourself for spin from pundits and Republican "insiders" (including McCain campaign staffers who are already aboard the Jeb Bush 2012 bandwagon) who are going to try to make Sarah Palin the scapegoat for a defeat that was not her fault.

UPDATE: Doug Mataconis:
There was absolutely nothing surprising about John McCain's reaction to the financial crisis, because it was completely consistent with what we've been hearing from Senator McCain for years now. He's never been a champion of the free market, he's consistently sided with government bureaucracy and with the basic idea that government even needs to step in to situations like this -- a position he reiterated in his interview on Meet the Press last Sunday.
In other words, Maverick did what Maverick could be expected to do, and the GOP knew what it was getting when it picked him.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly.

    One of the important lessons that McCain doesn't seem to be learning is that the press rewarded him for taking democrat positions only when they could use him to bash Bush.

    In his current situation, he gets no benefit at all from his vaunted bipartisanship. The press hates anything he does, and actual conservatives can't see why they should vote for him.