Race is Dead Heat Post-Palin

Well, enough time has passed for pollsters to capture the feel of the country post-conventions, and the race is now a dead heat. And guess who’s responsible for the shake-up? Women:

As well as energising the Christian right, which had been sceptical about Mr McCain, the choice of the Alaska Governor has shaken up the race for middle America, and for suburban women in particular, who will be critical in swing states such as Ohio and Michigan which could tip the election.

Oh sure, they throw that bit in about the Christian Right, but was there ever any question who they would ultimately vote for? Women, on the other hand, well, that was not supposed to happen, even though it has happened for the last several elections. Remember soccer moms? And security moms?

The good news about the Christian Right for those of us committed to Nobama is that he can’t steal  that constituency. Barack Obama, Howard Dean and Leah Daughtry have been trying to. The best they can hope for now is to slice off a sliver of young evangelical votes. Hahahaha. I told you so!

Because a similar dynamic is already in play with Barack Obama’s campaign. This year, they’re posturing faith, and they run the risk of being similarly ensnarled. In this story (a word I use because I can see it playing out like a film in my head), Obama, who has never been an especially religious person, is posturing a phony religiousness. Like Kerry’s volunteer military service, Obama’s religious history has been a means to an end. Military service and church membership are like badges on a politician’s sash, like a grown-up version of Boy-and-Girl Scouts. They help establish his or her bona fides. And many a person with political aspirations has calculatingly pursued one or the other or both when they thought it would help them.

What is happening in this dynamic, near as I can tell, is that sophisticated political Democrats are identifying groups they think are easily duped, and trying to market their brand to them without telling them the truth about their product.

But not only do Democrats not play Republican strategy games as effectively as Republicans themselves do, Republicans are very good at figuring out and adapting Democratic strategy games. From the article linked at the top of the post:

But the Republicans are in no hurry to put their new star in front of questioning journalists. She has been shielded from the media since being picked and will begin giving interviews in a “few days”, Mr McCain said yesterday.

While the other contenders have faced more than a year of intense scrutiny, Governor Palin is a newcomer to the national scene.

This game is called Building Hype. Obama played it with his VP selection. McCain couldn’t play it with his VP selection because of the small amount of time between Conventions, so he played a little game called Surprise! Not Who You Thought! But now he’s going to play Building Hype. See, he only has to keep momentum going for about 60 more days. In another three or four days, the media saturation of Palin will be very high, higher even than right now. Everybody will know who she is, and that she’s been unavailable for a few days. Meanwhile, the media will continue to speculate and play the same game they played with Hillary Clinton. While Americans of all political persuasions watch. So when she does give that interview, millions will tune in. We’re talking Bill Clinton-explains-Gennifer Flowers territory.

But back to those stats:

Lydia Saad of the pollster Gallup said: “Barack Obama’s advantage over John McCain has been shrinking since the start of the Republican National Convention.” By last night it had disappeared altogether with Gallup’s rolling three-day survey showing Mr McCain three points ahead of his rival on 48 percent.

In the days after Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver, Gallup had shown the Democrat candidate briefly touching 50 per cent. That has since slipped to 45 percent.

John Zogby found Mr McCain had surged into the lead in his survey, which puts the Republican candidate on 49 per cent, to Mr Obama’s 46 per cent. “Clearly, Palin is helping the McCain ticket,” Mr Zogby said. “She has high favourability numbers, and has unified the Republican Party.”

Even Zogby, baby. The outlier polls have McCain in the lead. Oh yeah. Go, baby, go!

Finally, regular readers know I’ve been touting the election of 1948, trying to snag that narrative and push it into the mainstream. It really is analogous in so many ways. I’ve been telling my husband for two months now that McCain should pick Palin, then go on a Truman-style cross country campaign trip.

Another feature of Truman’s 1948 race was his famed “whistle-stop” train campaign in which he gave speeches to crowds from the back of the special “Magellan” train chartered by the Democrats. In Boston, an estimated 20,000 people greeted him at the station, and in all the President traveled over 30,000 miles and made 201 stops on the “whistle-stop” route. In addition to allowing Truman a relatively efficient, economical way to get his message out, the use of the train also reinforced his popular image as a leader who avoided pretense and understood the problems of the average voter, a perception that ultimately won over voters when faced with the choice of the rather aloof and haughty Dewey. Truman’s success with the “whistle-stop” campaign continues in contemporary political races, where candidates seek to replicate the Truman image of reaching out to the people, now often through marathon bus or walking tours[.]

Not that they’ve taken my advice or anything, but they’ve done it. I just couldn’t fit in coverage of it in what I’ve been writing about recently. The McCain-Palin bus tour left the station August 29th. Momentarily interrupted by Gustave, it resumed immediately following the convention. And it is playing well. I’m sure they’ll be doing more of it too. I hope they come to Indiana!



4 comments on “Race is Dead Heat Post-Palin

  1. annabellep says:


    One poll has McCain ahead, for the record.

  2. annabellep says:

    Oh wow, I skimmed over these gems in the article:

    A rattled Mr Obama trained his fire on Mrs Palin for the first time at a rally in Indiana, referring to reports that she accepted Federal money, known as “earmarks”, for Alaska. “When you’ve been taking all these earmarks when it’s convenient, and then suddenly you’re the champion anti-earmark person, that’s not change,” the Illinois senator said.

    Really a bad idea, Obama. Didn’t they teach you anything in law school?

    And this:

    In a television interview yesterday morning, Mr McCain played up his maverick image, highlighting the issues on which he has broken with the Republican party in the past, and tried to neutralise Democratic complaints that he has sold out many centrist positions to win the presidential nomination.

    The Arizona senator also promised to have multiple Democrats in his cabinet, saying he wanted the “best people”. He added: “Some of them I’ll ask them to work for a dollar a year. They made enough money.”

  3. judy says:

    Hi, Just checking in. I have been reading your blog for sometime and I am very impressed on your analysis of what is going on in these times.

    Right from the beginning I had a very bad feeling in my psyche about the nomination of BHO. At the end of Feb. I finally realize when I would hear BO spoke he was really preaching to us as lost souls and he would save us from this “earthly” hell. The key word to listen to is “you”. When one uses this word in any setting they are preaching. Just listen to the contrast when Hillary spoke. She used the word “I”. What “I” will bring to the table will be always to help everyone and everything. BHO is on a crusade to tell “you” that “you” are bad and ignorant and he is the ONE to fix it. So your above revelation about Leah now helps me understand where BHO is coming from.

    Keep up the good work you are doing. The energy that it give to each of who are reading and digesting it will spread like fire and will destroy that which is not for the good.

  4. annabellep says:

    Hey, thanks Judy. I appreciate that. Glad that info on Daughtry helped you clear up some confusion. That’s what we’re here for. 🙂

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