2008 Galluping Past McCain
posted by September 18 at 11:00 AMon
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.