Look For Obama's Lead To Shrink Again
By: Ara

[Cross posted at E Pluribus Unum]

Obama's lead in national tracking polls, which has been approaching (or exceeding) double-digits recently, will probably be shrinking again soon in the closing weeks of the campaign. The most obvious reason for this is that he's too hot not to cool down. After all, no one seriously expects Obama to win by 10-15 points on election day. There have been only a handful of election margins of that magnitude in American history, and (as bad as it looks for Republicans right now) this is probably not going to be one of those times. I hope I'm wrong, but I'd rather be realistic.

You can see the beginnings of a tightening in the R2K tracking poll over at Daily Kos. This morning (Tuesday, 10/7) the margin was 52-41 but the internals are more instructive: On successive days in the R2K poll, Obama was up +13 Saturday, +11 Sunday and +9 Monday -- evidence of a cooldown, post-debate. Now, make no mistake: 9 points is landslide territory. But, again, look at the trend. Tuesday's results will replace Saturday's and my guess is that this will bring the margins into the single-digits again -- possibly in the 50-43 range where it was just before the 770 point drop-off in the Dow during the bailout negotiations. And, as state polling is always a lagging indicator, we can also expect to see those polls tighten up as well. Of course, early voting in Ohio and Georgia, for example, may already mitigated that effect because the early voters may be the excited Obama constituency. Again, just a hunch.

Other reasons to expect a tightening of the race:

  1. Two weeks ago, peoples' hair was on fire. Now? Not so much. Over time, we get used to things. And, to be blunt, people have very short memories.

  2. McCain/Palin are attacking Obama with renewed fury, ripping off and throwing every kitchen sink they can get their hands on. And, more importantly, the traditional media is playing the equivalency game, e.g., equating McCain's proven ethical lapses in the Keating Five affair with Obama's ambiguous acquaintence with Bill Ayers. When this happens, voters shrug their shoulders and move on.

  3. And speaking of the traditional media, they are ready to kiss and make up with McCain/Palin. Within the last couple of days, we've read that Sarah Palin is set to appear on SNL spoofing Tina Fey's American Express ads and John McCain is set to kiss and make up with Dave Letterman just prior to the third debate in New York. Hey, whatever gets ratings -- it's all good, right?

  4. Unknown developments in the terrorist underground may yield a new OBL tape (or worse) that swings public sentiment to McCain. After all, everyone (including the CIA) knows that the last thing al Qaeda wants is a popular American president. If they can keep electing (and fighting) Republican presidents, then their recruiting efforts will continue to be successful.

In the final analysis, we can't get let the ebb and flow of tracking polls affect our personal motivation to see to it that Obama is elected.

We're very close to winning this thing, but it ain't over yet. So buy a hat and hang the f*ck onto it.