Friday, September 12, 2008


There will be plenty to say about the Palin Doctrine and her approach to foreign policy, assuming she can remember what she's been told it is a little better.

But her nomination has certainly been the buzz, and is largely credited with McCain's convention bump (which, by the way, appears to have peaked.)

There are so many polls now--and there are so many news ones starting soon--that they really are on the verge of being meaningless. I suppose the folks who average them or study the internals have some idea of what they mean, but there are so many premises, which may or may not reflect reality, that to depend on them is silly. Still, what else do we have to talk about?

As for the Palin bump, Nate at FiveThirtyEight suggests there is a theme in these recent polls: And what is that theme? Well, it's that the popular vote and the Electoral College are significantly diverging. Although the Republicans seem to be polling stronger than they were in the pre-convention period almost everywhere, the differences are much larger in traditionally red states, particularly in the South and the rural West.

In other words, McCain is gaining ground among his base in places where it doesn't matter if he gains ground. He was probably going to win that state anyway.

What the aggregate of polls suggests is that this race is very close, and a lot like 2004. We know that in many respects it is clearly different, but there is the possibility that the new factors wind up bringing us to the same virtually deadlocked place. So the few points McCain has moved up in some swing states is what makes this electorally closer.

That's right now, with the Palin convention bump. We don't know if this continues, or if this is the best that ticket can do. But we do know that Obama doesn't have much ground to make up. Bill Clinton said today he believed Obama would win "handily." That may be more a hope than a prediction, but it is still very much a possibility.

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