The Week The Race Turned

There is a growing conclusion among political nerds across the country. This election should be Barack Obama’s to lose. Democrats are enjoying a 10-15 point lead in the polls depending on which you like to read. Yet Senator Obama does not enjoy that kind of distance from senator McCain. The tightness of the presidential race can’t be credited to John McCain’s campaign. It has been less than stellar at setting a positive agenda at getting their candidate elected. McCain himself gives a poor stump speech, looks behind the times on Iraq, and isn’t very trusted on the economy. His energy policies are to drill off shore and well drill off shore. McCain has been the candidate of the “100 Years” gaffe and the famous “I don’t know much about the economy…” gaffe. 

It’s hard to see how McCain is holding so close but I think there are essentially two things at work keeping this race closer than it should be. 

#1. People are afraid to elect Obama. For a number of reasons Obama is a dangerous choice for President in the eyes of many. The reasons range from legitimate to disgusting. On the one hand is a young man with a thin resume, especially on the national and global political stages. Voters have every right to question those things about him, and John McCain would be doing himself a disservice to himself not to raise those doubts. The other reasons are more hateful, suspicious, and upsetting. Obama’s blackness, his “funny sounding name” his “otherness” has allowed the internet to swarm with rumors and nastiness about him that have spread like wildfire. Despite the Obama campaign’s efforts to curb the rumor mill, he is facing a potential support ceiling despite his positions on issues which poll very well. 

#2. The McCain brand is still very strong. There was worry in the primary season that McCain’s liberally prone independence would cause a dip in support among the base. While hard numbers are impossible to come by, McCain has of late stressed his American-ness. His desire to be the American President, America deserves. So despite his bumbling, despite still having not created a coherent narrative to elect himself president he still sits in the hunt because people believe in John McCain. 

All of this sets up the precursor for the ugliness that became this week. I turn to Reuters to summarize…

The McCain campaign has proven despite how early it is in the race, its time to go negative. It’s ugly, it’s wrong and its insidious.


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