Posted by WLS:
Beldar has an interesting take over at Hugh Hewitt’s Townhall blog site on last night’s debate and the secondary headlines that are coming out of the debate analysis coverage.
His point echoes one made yesterday by Jim Geraghty at his Campaign Spot at National Review Online, revealing the return of his super inside source in GOP politics known to his readers only as “Obi Wan Kenobi.”
The upshot of both is that while Obama is certainly ahead and has every advantage over Mccain right now, the fact remains that his lead is much smaller than it should be if he were truly the transformative and undeniable political force that the left wing and MSM have made him out to be for 9 months. The lead he enjoys is fragile, as he has twice bumped up around 50% only to fall back into the mid-40s each time. Voters in that range continue to move towards him and then away from him.
Elections are zero-sum contests. Obama’s current lead of around 6 points in the average of polling reflects an advantage of only 3 voters out of 100. The movement of any one voter away from one candidate towards the other creates a two point shift in the result.
Granted, McCain has never gone above 45% with any consistency but what is the rationale for the McCain campaign? It really comes done to the fact that he is the nominee of one of the major parties. Even with that, the base of his party has never embraced him during his entire career, and the only thing he has done to excite them since he became the presumptive nominee was to name Palin as his VP.
So who has the greater burden?
I think the truth of this election cycle is that McCain can’t “win.” He doesn’t have the agenda or policy prescriptions demanded by the public. The only way he gets sworn in as President is to avoid losing.
Obama, on the other hand, must “win” — he must overcome the reluctance of a narrow slice of the electorate to see him as their President.
As Beldar points out, Obama had Hillary up against the wall and over a barrel (to mix metaphors) in the primary season when he could bank his delegate lead without fear of slippage, yet over the last 3 months of the primary season he lost one big contest after another and simply ran out the clock on her to secure the nomination. In addition to losing those contests, he significantly underperformed his polling in several of those contests.
As someone who as a young man was regularly in the company of his friends while closing down drinking establishments into the early morning hours, Obama reminds me of the guy who always had trouble “closing the deal.” Those voters who exist in Obama’s polling between 45% and 51% are happy to tell pollsters now that they’re willing to dance with him while the lights are on and the music is playing. It remains to be seen whether they are willing to “gather up their things and head for the door with him” after last call.
Geraghty quotes Obi Wan making this interesting comment about the tenuous nature of Obama’s lead:
Fourth — for me this was the the kind of insight that makes him as a Jedi Master — “Media bias may be McCain’s biggest asset in this race. First, [for the past eight years] they built McCain up into the Maverick hero [every time he disagreed with Bush] and that insulates him from the too-close-to-Bush charge. Then they can’t leave Palin alone and she keeps hitting out of the park just as they build her audience up. And now they’ve decided the election is over and given Obama an eight point lead. So if he starts to fade at any point in the next month that seems like a crash and cause a panic.”
“I guarantee you, right now there is some realist in the Obama camp who is petrified of any falloff in the polls.”
If Obama were ahead 20 points and 3 voters in 100 changed their mind between now and election day, Obama would still lead by 14 points and nobody would care. But, since he’s ahead only 6 points — after all that has happened in his favor — if only 3 voters change their mind he’s in a dead heat with a guy who was given up for dead several times already.