Tuesday 9 September 2008

Bingo: the McCain / Palin Bounce

As predicted, the McCain / Palin ticket have benefited from a bounce in the polls. CNN reports that McCain and Obama are tied, at 48% each, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll released on Monday afternoon.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken over the weekend shows a 4% lead for McCain over Obama, with a 50% of respondents favouring McCain versus 46% for Obama.

Will this last? Apparently only a limited number of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have decided to back Obama, while the Republicans themselves are only just starting to get organised. It’s probably too early to tell: I anticipate the polls will swing closer towards a tie as we progress towards October. It’s going to be a hard race, and will most likely be decided by get-out-the-vote on Election Day.

This may come as a shock to most Democratic supports, who can’t imagine why their candidate isn’t further ahead in the polls. Nothing should be taken for granted at this stage.

Some other things to keep track of:

· David Frum’s superlative article Times entitled “The Vanishing Republican Voter” appeared in the September 5th New York Time. This article explores the links between rising inequality and political orientation in the United States. If you read one article this week, it should be this one.

· The Republican Base is back. As predicted, Palin’s selection has changed the game for the GOP. Alec MacGillis covers the new energy injected into one core constituency of the Republican party in a perceptive article, “For the Republican Base, Palin Pick Is Energizing” in Monday’s Washington Post.

I’ve been slightly mystified by the Democratic reaction to the Palin pick. Pundits, bloggers and others are making the mistake of analysing this choice rationally, i.e. in terms of performance. Don’t. Sarah Palin’s value is as a symbol of achievement, an inspiration, rather than a statement of the achievements themselves. She is dynamite, and her nomination alongside John McCain has changed the game and may–if the Republican base catches up–win the election.

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