Reviewing the day's polls, Nate Silver wrote: "With 25 days to go until the election, Barack Obama is presently at his all-time highs in four of the six national tracking polls (Research 2000, Battleground, Hotline and Zogby) and is just one point off his high in Gallup. He has emerged with clear leads in both Florida and Ohio, where there are several polls out today. He is blowing McCain out in most polls of Pennsylvania and Michigan, and is making states like West Virgina and Georgia competitive."
As it would turn out, this would be the high point of the day for the McCain campaign.
(I have to flag Nate's use of the word "presently" to mean "currently." Then again, about the only person I know who uses the word correctly is Keith Olbermann, who uses it to mean "coming up soon.")
Later the Newsweek poll came out, with Obama ahead 52% to 41%. Lawrence O'Donnell would presently point out that 41% is about as low as you can go in a national poll as long as you have an R or a D after your name.
Then again, Obama was up 52% to 40% in the Research 2000 daily tracker. He
was 51-41 in Gallup tracking and 50-45 in Rasmussen.
Through the day, McCain faced mounting criticism--from officials within his own party. A congressional supporter called the campaign out for their inflammatory rhetoric. The Republican governor of Michigan said: "He is not the McCain I endorsed," said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me." A poll of Republican insiders showed that 80% of them believe Obama will win.
Then McCain attempted to pivot slightly from the recent attacks he and Palin have been making to propose something economical: a fairly arcane but decent sounding proposal concerning seniors and their retirement accounts, which quickly turned out to be pretty useless--apparently of benefit mostly to people 100 years old.
But as McCain's supporters continued to express their racism and wing-nuttery at his rallies, McCain was forced--no fewer than three times--to caution them to be respectful, that they don't have to be afraid of Obama as President of the United States, and that he is a decent family man. At at least one point while he was saying this, he was booed. On Rachel, Ana Marie Cox of Time, who is traveling with the McCain campaign, said that while there are always some crazies at rallies, she was finding that McCain's rallies are now totally comprised of "wing-nuts."
Then while the evening cable shows were digesting these events, the Troopergate report finally was released. A committee of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats in the Alaska legislature unanimously voted to release it, and it found Governor Palin guilty of abuse of power under state law. The best quick summary of its findings I've seen is Michael Scherer's here.
It happened that Lawrence O'Donnell was already being interviewed on Keith (Keithless Keith tonight, David Schuster hosting), and had already said of the increasing pressure on McCain to denounce the violent responses of his crowds, and the subsequent undercutting of his own stealth point in affirming that noone needs to be afraid of Obama as President, that sometimes campaigns box themselves in so that they have no good options, and the McCain campaign has done just this.
There are a lot of pundits out there, but O'Donnell is one I listen to, because he is informed, very savvy and has a point of view different from the others. Of course I don't always agree--but he's been dead right on this sequence of events.
After a few minutes during which he evidently speed-read the report, O'Donnell returned with the idea that this undercut and even destroyed Palin's credibility to attack Obama, to differentiate herself and McCain as the clean candidates who wouldn't be business as usual in Washington. She was becoming a drag on the ticket, as her approval ratings went straight down, he said, and now she really is a liability. And the report has come out at the worst possible time for the Republican ticket.
I think it was O'Donnell who pointed out that this possibility was known at the time McCain chose her--the investigation was already underway. Indeed, I was among those who discounted her as a possible candidate because of this investigation. But McCain chose her anyway, he rolled the dice, and he lost.
So what's the good news for the McCain campaign? It's Friday, and McCain usually takes the weekend off.
(On the other hand, there is this pretty amazing rumor.)
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