Thursday, September 18, 2008

Facing a perfect storm, McCain's numbers begin to collapse

John McCain's campaign may be about to run off the tracks. McCain is facing a perfect storm that is composed of several factors:
  1. The "McCain is Dishonest" meme has taken hold in the mainstream press. It is now relatively common to hear television commentators referring to McCain's lies and the Democratic National Committee has set up a website to capture a document instances where the press has labeled an action or statement of McCain's as dishonest. Ordinary Americans are now hearing about McCain's dishonesty and are coming to the conclusion that McCain is a liar who would say anything to be president.
  2. The Palin bubble has popped. The vetting of Palin in the press and on the web has disclosed serious problems, not the least of which is a troubling lack of honesty in how she presented herself (or was presented by the McCain campaign). Palin, like McCain, has earned a reputation for dishonesty. Her numbers are falling and she is becoming a drag on the ticket.
  3. The stock market's collapse and McCain's long, well documented history of opposing any regulation of Wall Street. John McCain is so out of touch with the economy that as late as Monday afternoon he was still claiming (a la Phil Gramm) that there is really nothing wrong with the economy. Barack Obama has been warning for six months that we were at risk for what happened this week. Barack Obama is ready and has a plan to proceed. McCain has revealed that he doesn't really understand the situation and has no plan. McCain has called for a commission to meet and come up with a plan that he can then implement, perhaps years from now. This week's events have shown just how dependent on Phil Gramm's economic mumbo-jumbo McCain has let himself become, and how profoundly unprepared McCain is to deal with economic issues.
The combination of these factors seem to be responsible for a downturn in McCain's numbers. Look at this chart:

As can clearly be seen, McCain enjoyed a larger bounce coming out of his convention than Obama. Combined with the so-called Palin Bounce, McCain was able to overtake Obama and briefly led in the national polls. Now that advantage seems to be evaporating.

McCain's lies have drawn a backlash from the press and from political satirists like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Palin has proven to be anything but a breath of fresh air. Her growing ethical problems in Alaska and her inability to field unscripted questions from the press or townhalls has hurt her. Looming over all of this are the problems the economy is experiencing and McCain's long record of refusing to do anything about economic problems.

The key thing to look for in coming days is whether this really signals a permanent decline in McCain's fortunes, or whether McCain will be able to mount yet another rally. McCain has rallied several times before, both in the primaries and the general, so he cannot be counted out. Democrats, and other people who care about the direction of this country, need to redouble their efforts now through the election.

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