Saturday, October 04, 2008

Does McCain have any chance of bouncing back?

As of right now, McCain seems intent on digging his own grave for this election. Palin is "doing her darnedest" to keep his dead horse propped up, but with so much focus on the economy and how poorly the Republicans have managed it, the election is clearly now Barack Obama's to lose. Sure, it is close and the dynamics can change on a moment's notice, but McCain simply seems to be sputtering as Obama begins to gain traction.

There are two big wildcard factors to consider:

  1. Obama's superior ability at registering new, especially young and energetic, voters. There are simply a lot of votes out there for Obama that are not yet even on the map. And a lot of young people use cell phones rather than "land lines", so they are not reachable by the traditional pollsters.
  2. Reluctance of poll respondents to be candid about race and voting the opposite of what they said to the pollsters. This is the so-called "Bradley Effect."

It is unknown how big these two factors will be.

A third factor is the path of the economy and the current financial crisis. The so-called "recession" is still quite mild in historic terms while the banking "credit crunch" crisis may be on the cusp of resolution. A lot will happen over the next month and either the economy does spiral down into a true and deeply-felt recession or maybe the bailout will ease the credit crunch enough that there is enough of a sigh of relief that swing voters will be less likely to vote against a Republican.

A fouth factor is Amercian people having time to get used to Barack Obama as a newcomer. They have had lots of questions and with the passage of time those questions incrementally become answered. Whether enough of their uncertainty will have been erased by election day remains to be seen.

A fifth factor is that Barack Obama is running as a non-centrist Democrat and the American people have not tended to believe that non-centrist Democrats can really be trusted with boosting the economy and national security. They trusted Jimmy Carter once and it took 12 years before they were willing try a Democrat again.

A sixth factor is the public attitude towards tax cuts. The Republicans are more likely to follow through on cutting taxes, but it also looks as if the Democrats will have even stronger control of Congress after this election. Obama does have some credible tax cut plans for "The Middle Class", but the problem is that the Democrats have had zero credibility when it comes to cutting taxes.

A seventh factor is that it appears that the situation in Iraq has been improving, so the big Progressive push to get out of Iraq ASAP is not as urgently compelling as it was a year ago. If voters believe that the surge worked, they are more likely to think that McCain will be able to handle Afghanistan while Barack is a question mark despite his tough talk.

In short, McCain does have some chance to bounce back, but his star certainly does seem to be dimming by the day. He really need to see the credit crisis evaporate by election day.

-- Jack Krupansky


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