Saturday, October 04, 2008

Palin Fails, McCain Still Sinking

I've only seen one tracking poll today, but it's impressive: Obama 52%, McCain 40%. (Research 2000.) Obama is up a point, on the first day that the VP debate figures significantly in the poll. Update: Obama is at 51-45 in Rasmussen, 50-42 Gallup and 48-41 Hotline. Writes Nate Silver: With the first set of tracking polls out to incorporate at least one full day of post-debate interviewing, there is no indication that John McCain and Sarah Palin have made progress in closing their gap with Barack Obama. In fact, Obama ticked upward in three of the four national tracking polls that published today, although he lost a point in Rasmussen. In addition, Ipsos/McClatchy has come out with a poll showing that the debate moved undecideds slightly toward the Obama ticket, confirming the results of most of the snap polling conducted on Thursday evening.

But the polls are in on the debate itself, and it's not even close. Not when the biggest spread is from Fox: Biden 61% Palin 39%. For Independents only, MediaCurves shows 67% for Biden.

Though the TV response was somewhat favorable to Palin, a good deal of the newspaper response now coming in is not.

Several media reports yesterday said that almost every cent the McCain campaign is spending on media is on negative ads. Several reports today said that the McCain-Palin campaign is gearing up to go even more negative, presumably into Rev. Wright territory. VP candidate Palin is already doing her pit bull stuff, calling Obama a friend of terrorists. It's worth noting that when she accused Obama-Biden of waving the white flag of surrender in Iraq, focus group response nosedived. When Biden said they would end the war, response soared.

In his analysis of why McCain dissed Michigan, Nate Silver points out that "McCain's problems ultimately stem back to the early summer, when his campaign decided to throw a ton of money into negative advertising rather than to build a robust field operation." They were able to cut into Obama's lead then, but it has more than rebounded since. And now the McCain campaign has less money (though with the RNC, it's still a pile) and little ground organization.

Where the race is probably close, as in Ohio (according to Al G's analysis), it's the ground game that can make the difference (and since Ohio is early-voting now, may be making that difference right now.) Where it is not so close, even a barrage of vicious ads probably can't shave enough off Obama's lead, especially if they are simply repeating and amplifying old charges.

Besides which, the Obama campaign is beginning its own barrage of provocative ads, very negative but on issues and policy positions, especially health care. It's the final fight to focus the rest of the campaign. Obama is just so well positioned right now. All the preparations when people were wringing their hands in previous weeks are starting to pay off. Hundreds of thousands of new and re-registered voters. Energized volunteers, with well-organized field offices. And money to stay flexible on response ads as well as to stay on the attack. Plus outside organizations like willing and able to go where the official campaign can't.

Plus the next two debates, which means that until two weeks before the final voting, McCain will have to face Obama as Obama refutes charges and makes his own on the issues that voters are clearly focused on: the economy, health care and ending the war in Iraq.

And don't miss the Letterman excerpts above.

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