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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Galluping Past McCain

posted by on September 18 at 11:00 AM


I am generally against reading too much into daily tracking polls, but this one seems pretty clear to me.

What happened beginning Sept. 14? The economic melt-down, the ensuing media focus on financial markets and the credit crunch, and Obama’s stepped-up attacks on McCain for having no good solutions for a bad economy.

This is a tremendously good sign for Obama. For one, it shows there could be a huge potential payoff for making the next 47 days an endless reprise of, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

But, more importantly, consider what political types would have inferred if this tracking poll hadn’t shown a bounce for Obama this week. My guess is the conventional wisdom would have gone like this:

Obama is a great candidate. McCain is very vulnerable on the economy. Voters historically favor Democrats in tough economic times. So, if voters are not moving toward Obama this week—of all weeks—there must be something else holding them back. It must be race. And if so many voters are still willing to elevate their prejudices over their economic self-interests, even as the entire financial system is melting down, there’s nothing Obama can do to win this thing. It’s over. He’s black. It’s over. America is not ready. It was over before it began.

So this tracking poll saves Obama in two ways. The obvious way is that it gives him a sense of momentum and opportunity, and indicates that his economic message is working. The less obvious, but more important, way is that it prevents a beneath-the-surface fear (or, depending on your politics, beneath-the-surface hope) from being affirmed as a political reality.

RSS icon Comments


Nothing about McCain thinking Spain is part of Latin America?

Posted by Mike of Renton | September 18, 2008 10:58 AM

@1: When two-thirds of Americans wouldn't see anything wrong with that statement, I don't think that will affect him at the polls.

Posted by demo kid | September 18, 2008 11:02 AM

@1 - I had no idea what you were talking about... but that's awesome

Posted by Alan | September 18, 2008 11:06 AM

In terms of economic policy, keep in mind that McCain's ex-economic advisor Phil Gramm sponsored the bill that repealed Glass-Steagal in 1999, the last bit of depression era regulation that kept the investment banks in check.

McCain himself voted for the repeal, which many believe had a direct connection to the inflating credit bubble and the crisis at hand.

Although you can fault the Dems as well since Bill Clinton signed that bill, it would be hard to deny that McCain does stand for an unregulated banking industry.

Posted by Pondscum | September 18, 2008 11:11 AM

Shockingly, after '80, '84, '88, '00, and '04 that we learn fighting back against unfair charges helps us WIN.

Posted by TheTruthHurts | September 18, 2008 11:14 AM

"This is a tremendously good sign for Obama. "

Good in for his presidential bid.
BAD for what he'll inherit when he gets there.

Posted by treacle | September 18, 2008 11:14 AM

@4: According to THIS, McCain did not vote on the final Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill to repeal Glass-Steagal. Joe Biden, however, did vote for the repeal. This is not a winning argument for Obama.

Posted by DOUG. | September 18, 2008 11:24 AM

@7 - Didn't vote. Not "voted against", "no vote". Since he's on record supporting the bill, then, like most votes this year, skipped out on the final call, then later appointed Gramm to his economic team, I'd say this is fair game.

Posted by David | September 18, 2008 11:27 AM

americans like a little socialism when things get bad. you just can CALL it socialism.

the dabates are next week. bury him, barack. we need a landslide to shut the paleo-cons the fuck up.

Posted by max solomon | September 18, 2008 11:30 AM

Praise Gaia, the polls! They are meaningful again!!!

Posted by RonK, Seattle | September 18, 2008 11:36 AM

good post, eli. this is interesting, valid commentary on the race thing.

Posted by Jamey | September 18, 2008 11:42 AM

With the economy in the toilet it is clear that we need the President of the United States that has the intellectual capacity and leadership fortitude to wrangle a very complex rubix cube. The country needs someone a smart problem solver in the FDR mold.

I have to believe that our current frat boy sorority girl criterion for choosing our leader (“I think she seems cool or I’d like to have a beer with him”) is going to seem a bit ridiculous at this point. I mean, people are wondering if they are going to lose their mutual funds, retirement accounts and insurance policies.

I can't believe there are too many people who believe that "the economy is not my strong suit" McCain and "I’m a folksy small town redneck just like you" Palin is going to fly.

This is serious shit and I think enough people realize we actually need someone who is smarter than us to help us figure out how the hell to wrangle this big fucking mess.

Conclusion...Obama will be the next President.

Posted by Mrs. Y | September 18, 2008 11:43 AM

Seems that the argument against voting for Sen. Obama solely on account of his race (as people like Jacob Weisberg, Randall Kennedy and others have asserted) is specious. That concludes that the great American sin of racism accounts for an Obama loss (whether that margin is big or small) and the American electorate is racist. There are other reasons to vote against Obama like the fact that he is a Northern liberal (no Northern liberal Democrat has won the presidency in nearly fifty years), or that he is inexperienced or that he is too pro-choice for some working class Democrats. The list could be bigger. But, to assert just race is a factor? That big of a factor? It would be extremely difficult if not impossible to measure. What if Colin Powell (as a Republican) ran and won? Would race be a factor? Look, I don't doubt that there will be white (and black) supremacists who will vote for or against their candidate based on skin color. As irrational and wrong as that is, I'd like to believe that you, I and the American electorate will vote in good conscience and vote for the candidate based on our view of the issues, the integrity of the candidates and what one voter believes to be the better future for the USA.

Posted by lark | September 18, 2008 11:44 AM

Unfortunately Obama is still behind in the electoral vote...

Posted by EV | September 18, 2008 11:45 AM

This is only helps relieve my election anxiety a little bit. Obama is still behind in the electoral college polling, which is more relevant. I'm still working up a good ulcer.

Still, this is good news. I suspect it is a combination of McCain's convention bounce fading (a natural trend that happens every election cycle), and the horrendous economic news, which seems to be hurting McCain more then Obama (as it should).

And if this is a trend, it will lead the electoral college polls. This poll is done daily. The electoral college polling is done more randomly, and can be a couple days to a week behind any major news event. You don't see a daily tracking poll in WA, for example; just periodic polls.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | September 18, 2008 11:48 AM

If you look at the whole graph, seems obvious there was a Palin lift, which gradually and predictably sank after the novelty wore off.

Posted by Sean | September 18, 2008 11:56 AM

@2 has a point. It's the Stupidity, Stupid. Election 2008 isn't about race or gender--this is a referendum on The Stupids. Obama must either siphon some of them off from McCain (or hope they vote Paul, Nader, McKinney, write-in Hillary, or stay home), or else get nearly ALL the Smarties if he wants to win.

The challenge is that Palin has the Stupids all excited again and energized to vote. Voting for someone who cites Visual Confirmation of Another Country as a foreign policy credential? Only a Stupid could love that.

But yes, these poll numbers are good. Now, with so much money at stake for the NeoCons, let's all brace ourselves for whatever Dramatic Distraction/October Surprise the McCainanites will dream up to distract the American Idles from paying attention to the fact that their economy is in the toilet and about to be flushed.

Posted by Obama or Canada | September 18, 2008 11:56 AM

i can't imagine he will, but obama better not screw up these debates.

the election might be decided by a few old whiteys on tv who pick whether to give mccain softball questions or not!

Posted by jrrrl | September 18, 2008 12:03 PM

The race thing is only part of it, but it's bad enough. Obama would need to be at least ten points ahead in the tracking polls for me to relax even a tiny bit.

More worrisome is Americans' endless narcissism and capacity for self-delusion. They've been eagerly swallowing all the pap that the right has been ejaculating into their mouths for decades now. It's not that they vote against their economic self-interest in matters that help the rich get richer and flatten the middle class -- it's that they all anticipate that they will soon BE among the rich. So they try to live that lifestyle in an anticipatory way, maxing out the credit cards on motor homes, dune runners, wave runners, snowmobiles, 3-ton SUVs, 5000 sq. ft. McMansions, etc., and they vote in ways that might help the bottom line if they were over McCain's $5M-to-be-rich threshhold, but that only hasten their ruin if illness or accident interrupts the cash flow in the here and now.

If the economy gets much worse, I believe it will tip the vote heavily toward McCain-Palin because all these deluded people will become convinced that only they can reduce the tax / regulatory burden on individuals and return the economy to productivity.

Posted by rob | September 18, 2008 12:44 PM

Okay… Let’s look at Obama in context of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Of the top three U.S. senators getting big Fannie and Freddie political bucks (all Democrats) Obama is second, ahead of John Kerry and Chris Dodd, (chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs), even though he has only been in the Senate since 2005 and they have been there for decades…

Jim Johnson, who Obama had asked "to lead the process" of selecting his VP, was chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae. Previously, he was a managing director with Lehman Brothers.

Yeah… Obama’s really going to whip Freddie and Fannie into shape.

As for McCain and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, arguably the piece of legislation that made this whole mess possible, not only is McCain one of only 9 senators that did not vote for it, but Bill Clinton liked it well enough to sign it into law.

And speaking of Chris Dodd’s Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs … Doesn’t it and Barney Frank’s House Committee on Financial Services have some oversight responsibility for this mess?

That is what those committees are for isn’t it?

Just what have the Democrats done with those committees to prevent this since they took them over? (Other than negotiating sweetheart mortgage deals for themselves through Countrywide Financial’s "Friends of Angelo" program?)

Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas…

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 18, 2008 2:10 PM

As has been pointed out by David Wright, the only difference without the repeal of Glass-Steagal is that MBS's would have remained at investment banks instead of moving to Wamu and retail banks. while the entire mess might not have been AS big, it still would have been big, and messy.

I blame regulation FD way more for this.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 18, 2008 2:20 PM

But, more importantly, consider what political types would have inferred if this tracking poll hadn’t shown a bounce for Obama this week.

"inferred" = "implied"?

Posted by confundido | September 18, 2008 3:03 PM

@7 no vote on the final, but an 'aye' on the initial. I also doubt if he abstained on principle. While it's not a smoking gun and it's debatable whether the repeal of Glass-Steagal CAUSED this mess, we can definitely assume that deregulation hasn't helped it one bit.

Posted by Pondscum | September 18, 2008 3:12 PM

Pondscum, ineffective regulation hasn't helped a bit. Regulation FD failed, failed grandly to bring about transparency.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 18, 2008 4:03 PM

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