Friday, October 31, 2008

Four Days to Change: People Get Ready

Obama's "American Stories" Wednesday night reached some 33.6 million homes--more people watched it than watched the final game of the World Series, or that usually watch network shows at that time. There was alot of praise for the "ad" and only hollow criticism. Given the audience, I still do expect a boost in the tracking polls, which could start to show up Friday.

Thursday's topic was the Undecideds--which way will they go? McCain's pollster tried to make a case that they will go to, guess who, McCain. Others without a vested interested differed on this. Some said that they'll probably split. Some said that given their demographics more may well go to McCain--but there are voters not on the radar of the polls who are likely to go to Obama, so the "unknowns" and the "undecideds" will be a wash.

But then there's the "Bandwagon Effect" that suggests most will go to the candidate perceived to be winning, and that's Obama, at least right now. Yet another statistical analysis gives a 54-46 edge to Obama.

So the unknown remains unknown. Fortunately the Obama campaign is concentrating on what they can do something about--getting people to the polls to vote. That's the really big remaining question. On that score, the McCain campaign may be in very bad shape--according to the Washington Post, they are spending their money on television ads and have to cut back on Get Out the Vote support--which was already likely to be weaker than Obama's.

McCain is gambling on moving voters to him with television, though the best he can do is match the Obama ads. This might mean that if the polls haven't moved much by Monday, McCain is doomed.

Well, he's probably doomed anyway. The McCain-Palin campaign remains a tawdry joke. McCain had to bus in 4,000 school kids in Ohio to create a crowd of 6,000, and his team couldn't even get Joe the Plumber there. Frank Rich commented on Keith that the McCainites can't seem to organize a two car parade. Now the WPost has joined the NY Times in chiding McCain for his "increasingly reckless" attacks.

McCainites were pointing to a couple of polls that showed tightening, but experts like Nate Silver doubted it. In the meantime, the NY Times/CBS poll released Thursday showed Obama holding an 11 point lead, 51-40. McCain is dropping, due in large measure to Palin and the increasing perception that she's not ready to be President--perhaps fed by the many newspaper and other (General Powell) endorsements of Obama that made this point.

As for the contours of the campaign, they're represented by two neighboring states. Arizona, McCain's home state, is now so close that the Obama campaign is reportedly considering making a play. And California, where the Field poll said on Thursday, "Barack Obama is poised to win California by the largest margin of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936."

With the day-to-day of the campaign, the polls, the punditry, as well as the day to day of our lives, there's only a wisp of an idea of how we're going to see this--and above all, feel this--on Tuesday. Election day and election night could be one incredible story. There's this outside chance that it is going to be truly terrible. There is the likely scenario that it won't be quite as one-sided as it now seems that it might. might be just flat out amazing. The black turnout, the youth turnout--both potentially passionate and huge; the crucial Latino turnout, and even the numbers and feeling in less definite could be the Day of Joy we will long remember. I suppose it could be bad luck to think about it, so we aren't. Then again...people, get ready.

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