Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain boosts self by reaching GOP core – the same tactic Obama needs to use

In the days right after the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama had something as large as an 8 percent lead over Republican opponent John McCain.

Just after the Republican National Convention, McCain held a lead as large as 5 percentage points.

AND NOW, WE’VE reverted back to where the campaigns were more or less before the convention – with one candidate holding such a slim lead over the other that the race virtually amounts to a tie.

The Gallup Organization poll on Monday showed McCain with 47 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Obama.

The evidence exists that the reason McCain now gets the miniscule leads over Obama, compared to just prior to the convention when Obama had the miniscule leads over McCain is because the social conservatives who were inclined to distrust the U.S. senator from Arizona are enthused by his choice of a running mate.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has enough conservative beliefs on social issues that she has the hard-core now willing to trust that McCain will give in on his personal beliefs on certain issues (his past foreigner-friendly stance on immigration reform) to accept the conservative stance on the issues that matter to them (abortion, immigration reform, gay rights, etc.)

SO WHAT McCAIN has managed to do is get the hard-core base of the modern-day GOP to support him. That doesn’t mean a significant shift in the part of the population that doesn’t obsess about electoral politics. It doesn’t mean any significant gain in support for the McCain campaign.

But it is the move that McCain needed to do if he was to avoid getting his clock cleaned come Election Day by Obama. Now if Obama wants to regain the strength that he held in the days prior to the convention, he has to start appealing back to the hard-core base of the Democratic Party, some of whom either remain disenchanted by the whole Hillary factor or are apathetic enough to think their vote isn’t needed on Election Day for Obama to win.

That has always been the problem for political operatives when dealing with progressive (a.k.a. liberal) candidates for electoral office. Their natural constituencies are not the most reliable when it comes to turning out the vote.

That also is why many political professionals are skeptical about candidates that try to appeal to young (under 30) voters – they think many of those “kids” get lazy and don’t bother to vote.

SO IT IS natural that Obama is now trying to get those people re-enthused about the thought of him becoming president next year.

How else to explain the latest of the Obama fund-raising e-mails that he sent out Monday?

After reminding us of former Bush political operative Karl Rove’s admission that the McCain campaign ads of late have played loose with the facts, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe tells us, “John McCain is running the most negative and dishonest campaign in modern presidential history.

“He has demonstrated that he’d rather lose his integrity than lose this election,” Plouffe wrote.

NOW ADMITTEDLY, THE McCain campaign has come up with some ridiculous claims – ridiculous to those of us who understand the reality of government in Illinois.

Claiming that Obama’s only achievement as an Illinois Senate member was voting for a bill to teach sex education to kindergarten students was grotesque, since the focus of that bill was teaching children in the youngest grades what to watch out for so as to protest themselves from sexual predators.

So, for that matter, is the continual use of the “130” statistic (voting “present” 130 times as a state legislator, indicating an unwillingness to take a stance). Considering that Obama voted on more than 4,000 bills during his time in the Illinois Senate, 130 sounds small – particularly when one considers that many of those bills were measures specifically set up by a then-controlling Republican majority to try to put Democratic legislators on-record on issues the GOP could then use against them in select conservative districts.

This latest e-mail is meant to inform the Obama hard core that they are going to hear a lot of trash talk from the McCain campaign in coming weeks, and they shouldn’t particularly believe a lot of what they hear.

AT THE VERY least, they ought to realize that just about everything that a campaign says about its opponent lacks context, which is all important when trying to determine whether a government official is truly doing his job.

The hope is that by reassuring the Obama faithful that things are still going okay (and the fact that the Obama campaign set a record for fundraising by coming up with $66 million in August to me sounds like a lot of people who still believe in Barack).

If anything, use of the Internet to pass along this message might very well work in reaching the attention of an audience that is skeptical of what is spewed by political people on television and in other resources.

Take the recent interview Palin gave to ABC News (points of which were parodied by comedian Tina Fey in her recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live” – such as the line about global warming being “God hugging us closer”).

A RECENT GALLUP study of what people think of Palin’s coverage by newsgathering organizations shows that 54 percent of people who consider themselves Republican think Palin’s coverage has been “unfairly negative.”

By comparison, of people who consider themselves Democrats, 73 percent think Palin’s coverage has been “unfairly positive” or “about right.”

Few people think anything significant was said during her rehearsed appearance on national television. Just about no one had their views changed after seeing her.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Republicans are peeved over Sarah Palin’s developing public image (http://www.gallup.com/poll/110359/Republicans-Cry-Foul-Media-Coverage-Palin.aspx) at the same time they are trying to pass along their own distorted viewpoint of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. The key for the public is to remember that all campaign talk is “trash talk” that should NEVER be taken literally.

Oh-baaaaa-maa? For what it's worth, sales of assorted trinkets containing the logos of the two major (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/business/media/15trinkets.html?_r=1&ref=media&oref=slogin) presidential candidates are running roughly equal.

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