Three Weeks to Go

It’s a bit over three weeks until the American general election and all the polls right now point to one outcome and one outcome only: President Barack Obama. On the face of it we have McCain’s public contrition, suggesting strongly that he’s trying to reposition himself as the Bob Dole – the inevitable but honourable loser – of this campaign, and Sarah Palin finally getting herself into trouble:

When Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers’ opener on Saturday night at the Wachovia Center, she was greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos. Ed Snider, owner of the Flyers, had her introduced to the crowd more as a hockey mom than as the Republican candidate for vice president.

Her toxicity to McCain’s campaign is becoming ever more apparent:

Palin is no longer helping to attract women and independent voters to the Republican ticket. A poll for Fox News last week showed that while 47% of voters regard the Alaska governor favourably, 42% now have an unfavourable opinion of her.

Palin remains far more popular than McCain with the Republican party base. He regularly has to endure the spectacle of members of the audience leaving for their cars when it is his turn to speak at joint rallies.

So as we enter the endgame, we have McCain and Palin now starting to ignore their current roles, in favour of repositioning themselves for the aftermath – how does McCain salvage his career after the terrible things he’s said and done, and how does Palin build a true, national constituency for a run against Obama in 2012? Or do they still have a chance? Stryker McGuire reminds us of the Bradley Effect:

Straightforward political polling often falls far from the mark because of what has become known as the Bradley Effect, which dates to the campaign for the California governorship in 1982. Surveys in the run-up to the election and even exit polls on the day put Tom Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angeles, well ahead of the Republican candidate. And yet Bradley lost by 1.2 per cent. Why? Speculation pointed in several different directions: inadequate sampling, people changing their minds at the last minute, latent racism that didn’t turn up in the polling and outright lying on the part of voters or, at least, a reluctance on the part of people polled to admit a voting preference that they thought might be socially unacceptable.

I don’t think that’ll happen here. Not only does social class appear to be transcending race here as the main issue in Obama’s electability, but we’ve moved through an electoral cycle just at a time when the incumbent party is at the epicentre of a political crisis which its new leader is ignoring in favour of likening his opponent to a terrorist. The electorate quite literally can’t afford the luxury of such cynical politics – a fact which Obama is all too aware of. The New York Times agrees:

Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.

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One response to “Three Weeks to Go

  1. well written post! I like the way you organize your comments (-: I’m more of essayist myself (-;
    check out my latest on the ugly turn this race has taken when you get a chance:
    http://expatforobama.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/mccains-last-hope-of-victory-drill-baby-drillinto-the-mother-lode-of-racism-in-america/#comments

    Obama/Biden 08

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