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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Leaking His Lead Away: Obama Versus McCain

I imagine the Republican party, while not happy about the state of Senatorial, Gubernatorial, Congressional etc races, can't be unhappy in the slightest about the presidential race.

McCain has kept it close against Obama. Obama has had a modest lead for some time since he clinched the nomination, but the lead has slowly been leaking away. has Obama at +2% or so at the moment over McCain. Suppose we have a continued leakage away.

Coming up, we can expect the conventions to lead to a slight McCain bounce. There is usually a bounce for each candidate after the conventions, but the Republicans always hold their convention second so as to squash the Democratic bounce. I predict that will happen again.

We have the usual Republican right-wingnut parade of ridiculous charges against Obama. We'll see if that has any effect on the race. It seems to me that the best the democrats can hope for is for no effect. I don't see how this can be a positive effect for Obama. Obama has been fighting this quite strongly, but who knows if it can be strong enough. There are a 1-2% (at least) of voters likely to be swayed by all this.

We have the possibility (probability?) of racial effects on voting versus preference. This has variously been called the Bradley effect among other things in American politics. This will be unmeasureable even after the election, though it may get blamed for any Obama loss.

This analysis implies that Obama needs something to lead a move back towards himself. The democrats will do fine at all lower levels of the voting.

Team Obama is investing heavily in GOTV (get out the vote) efforts, more so than in all previous elections. That should match the Republicans in their GOTV, but the Repubs have a lot more experience. This is one of the key blessings of Obama's background as a community organizer, the realization that individual actions can be put together to create a large movement.

There will be the debates. Obama was never seen as doing as well as Hillary, but McCain is a verbally skillful fellow and will quite possibly more than hold his own in the debates. Obama likes to be nuanced - McCain will be blunt. And blunt often sells well in politics, even idiotic bluntness.

Other possible game changers: seems unlikely. Any verbal gaff by Obama will be leaped on by the Repubs. In contrast, McCain gaffs have been routinely ignored by the media. I guess team Obama needs to start spreading the McCain news around more -er- liberally.

McCain could have a Dole-type moment showing his age. Recall that Dole fell off a small stage in Chico California. This is possible, but there isn't much time left for this. And you can't plan for it.

Money-wise, McCain may seem to be raising less money than Obama, but the Republican party will be spending most of their cash hoard to support McCain, and money-wise the race currently seems about even. Even if Obama manages to edge ahead by 70million or so, that won't be enough to generate anything close to a land slide. Could it turn in to a substantial edge? I don't know. Small edge? Maybe.

General conclusion: the presidential race is a toss up.

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