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October 07, 2008

Three Reasons for Optimism

Time for a pep talk.

Take a breath, folks, it's all going to be okay. I know the polls have looked bad the last few days, but this election isn't over yet.

1. As quickly as things turned sour, things can turn around.
The last week's sudden surge of support for Obama isn't the result of anything his campaign is doing right. Nor is it the fault of McCain doing something wrong. Obama's bump is a result of the sudden shock of economic crisis. Formerly skeptical voters of the yellow dog persuasion are running home to mamma.

You will note that McCain's numbers aren't that bad. His national average is right around where it's always been: 44%. In effect, he's simply lost his convention bump, something that most people were predicting would happen all along. Obama's soaring, but there's no reason to expect his new supporters are all that solid. Things aren't over yet.

2. Today's debate format favors McCain.
Now, I thought McCain was going to bomb during the first debate; that turned out to be wrong. Maybe he'll have trouble tonight, but based on past performance I doubt it. McCain has an amusing tendency to get under Obama's skin whenever they're in the same building. I anticipate that Obama's going to be puffed up on his good press, which will make him extra-sensitive when McCain starts to prick him this evening.

Sure, we expect the so-called "undecided voters" that Gallup is rounding up for this townhall to be center-left, but that type of crowd is actually McCain's type of crowd. The burden is going to be on Obama to distinguish himself from McCain, not the other way around. My greatest worry is that McCain is going to be too centrist for Republican tastes. But, things aren't over yet.

3. McCain is finally, finally on the attack.
I'm glad he's forcing the media to at least mention Obama's connections to Bill Ayers and Fannie/Freddie, even if major news organizations misleadingly shrug it off as "going negative." Too many people are completely ignorant of both. I know you almost don't believe me (and I still can't quite believe it either), but it's true. People who are generally well-informed have no idea that Obama held his inaugural political event at Ayers' house. They have no idea how much money Obama has taken from Fannie/Freddie PACs and individuals. That needs to change.

McCain and his proxies need to remind people that Obama's path to the presidency has been paved by extremists, racists, and crooks like Father Pfleger, Reverend Wright, and Tony Rezko. Sure, everyone has known that stuff since May and it's lost all its force. But it wouldn't hurt to call this to the minds of centrist voters. Contrast the ideal of corruption-fighter Obama with the truth that he took a sweetheart deal from a criminal to buy his house. Contrast the ideal of the post-racial candidate with the truth that he took a pew at the church where refrains of "U.S. of KKK A." are commonplace.

There's still time to turn this around. McCain needs to explain it slowly and without taking a tone. If he gets nasty, people will just say he's having a temper tantrum, the "last gasp" of a dying campaign. That doesn't have to be the case.

Remember, last year at this time McCain was supposed to be finished, too. We have four weeks to go. Let's not give up just yet.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:13 AM

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