Brace Yourselves

Marc Ambinder paints a picture not entirely unlike the one that I painted earlier today in regards to the McCain campaign pulling out of Michigan.  The trending of the polls lately essentially puts McCain almost strictly on defense, and forces him to protect states that should rightfully be his according to more traditional electoral maps.

But it’s the last paragraph of Marc’s post that I find interesting.

For their part, Obama aides declined to characterize McCain’s electoral strategy. They fear that Obama’s numbers are artificially high, and that the race will tighten somewhat before November 4.  They also worry that McCain, who’s been running a mix of positive and negative television ads, will dump his money into an entirely negative campaign in October, one that would question  Obama’s fitness, patriotism and identity.

Whether Obama’s numbers are artificially high or not is a difficult thing to guage at this point.  You have the so-called Bradley effect that could possibly be at play, but you also have the “Obama Effect”, that tendancy for Obama to out perform polling, that may also be working at the same time.

There is, of course, the potential for the race to tighten as we get closer to November 4th, though I’m not as convinced of it’s probability as others may be.  There are a lot of factors involved.  The biggest, perhaps, depends on McCain; I simply don’t see him improving his numbers any unless his campaign hunkers down and quits with the shenanigans.  Also, if he wants to at least tighten up the numbers, both he and his running mate are going to have to learn how to talk to a reporter now and then without it becoming a major embarrassment.

But the most worrisome part of that last paragraph is the likelihood that as ugly as the McCain campaign has gotten up until now, the more desperate they get, the worse they’re going to get.  How successful the McCain campaign would be should it decide to take a serious turn to the negative is uncertain, button I believe they only have a certain window of opportunity.

They can’t start too soon, because with a month left to go, they would give the Obama campaign enough time to potentially defend themselves and reverse any damage done by a scathing series of attacks.  By that same token, the McCain campaign can’t wait too long either, as any “October Surprise” will need enough time to saturate the news cycle and have a significant effect on the polls.

The other thing that the McCain campaign has to worry about is if going hard negative will have the legs necessary and resonate deeply enough with the electorate.  John McCain has two strikes against him already; his campaign is already not seen for its honesty and seriousness, but also the media which would have to be a vehicle for a successful negative campaign at this point has already turned against him by his own design.

That’s to say, if McCain is going to attempt an eleventh hour mud slinging campaign, he’s already greatly handicapped himself.  Still, considering all the things we’ve seen from this campaign already, there’s absolutely no reason this campaign won’t drag this election even lower in the sewage than it already has.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook