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USA TODAY/GALLUP: McCAIN UP TEN POINTS AMONG LIKELY VOTERS!
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2008
BULLETIN AT 10:15 P.M. ET: Reader Jon Dorbecker alerts us to the new USA Today/Gallup poll just published, and reported here. It shows McCain up four among registered voters, consistent with the daily Gallup tracker, which has McCain up three. But among likely voters McCain is up ten, 54-44:
In the new poll, taken Friday through Sunday, McCain leads Obama by 54%-44% among those seen as most likely to vote. The survey of 1,022 adults, including 959 registered voters, has a margin of error of +/— 3 points for both samples.
We have no way of knowing whether this will last. For now, it's very good news.
UPDATE AT 8:30 P.M. ET: Drudge is reporting that The New York Times is preparing a "detailed story" about Sarah Palin's baby. I have no idea what this is about. Is The Times about to "expose" something damaging? Or, will it do a straightforward and responsible reporting piece, perhaps in an attempt to regain some lost prestige? I am only speculating here. The news media has been playing a dangerous game in the past week, and public opinion, according to Rasmussen, has not been favorable. We'll report details as soon as they become available.
UPDATE AT 6:43 P.M. ET: From Yahoo News: Under pressure for being shielded for questioning, Sarah Palin has a agreed to sit down with Charles Gibson of ABC’s “World News Tonight,” according to an ABC News official. No other interviews are scheduled. It will be the first TV interview for Palin since she was named 10 days ago as running mate to John McCain.
QUESTION: How many months did Barack Obama go with hardly a question permitted from reporters? Did you hear many complaints from the media?
UPDATE AT 4:17 P.M. ET: Ed Lasky of American Thinker alerts me to some devastating background,via Little Green Footballs, regarding Barack Obama's interview on ABC this morning. (See below, "Obama - The Interview.") Other readers, especially Andy B of New York City, have also supplied information. Obama claimed that he had to register for Selective Service when he graduated from high school in 1979. But the Selective Service mandatory registration program was not reinstated until 1980. Obama also claimed that he considered enlisting in the military after high school, but neither of his two autobiographical books mentions anything of the kind. McCain guys, get going on this.
Posted at Posted at 1:24 p.m. ET
Both trackers have now been posted, and the results are dramatic.
As reported below, Rasmussen has the race tied.
But Gallup now has McCain three points ahead, 48-45, his best showing in almost four months.
The polling for both polling organizations was taken entirely in the three days following Sarah Palin's acceptance speech, and in the two days following John McCain's. Tomorrow's result will reflect polling done entirely after the Republican convention.
The question: Can McCain keep this lead, and build on it, or will this bounce fade, as Obama's did following his convention? The fade for Obama came as a result of McCain's shot-in-the-arm convention. Obama has to counter McCain with something, and he's recently seemed directionless.
Another question: Will some in the media now go to town on McCain/Palin, and try to change the polls? Is this a difficult question? The effect of press coverage may be the great subtext of this campaign.
This is the most exciting race since Reagan defeated Carter in 1980, and it keeps getting better.
September 7, 2008. Permalink
OBAMA - THE INTERVIEW
Posted at 1:12 p.m. ET
Reader Peter Madsen writes this: "A college professor who hasn't been off campus much: Obama sans teleprompter on the Stephanopoulos show. When I was in Toastmasters we always had an ah-counter. You'd need two of them to keep up with this bird."
Mr. Madsen makes a valid point. The Obama in interviews is not the Obama with a prepared speech, addressing the multitudes. He has difficulty answering questions. He stumbles. He often seems at a loss for facts. You get the impression of a man constantly conniving, trying to express, not his own opinion, but the politically useful opinion. I've also had the feeling that he doesn't prepare very well.
The Politico reports on Obama's interview with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." Obama does not shine.
Barack Obama says his answer about abortion at the Saddleback Church forum was “probably” too flip.
During separate televised interviews last month, Pastor Rick Warren asked the two presidential candidates when a baby gets human rights. Obama replied that the question is “above my pay grade,” while John McCain won love from the right by saying quickly, “At the moment of conception.”
Now, Obama tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview taped for “This Week”: “What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It's a pretty tough question. And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions.”
So why hadn't he communicated those things? He's dealt with the abortion issue throughout his political career.
Then there's this, which leans to the bizarre:
Obama disclosed that he had once considered serving in the military.
“You know, I actually did,” Obama said. “I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii. And I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there.
“And I actually always thought of the military as an ennobling and, you know, honorable option. But keep in mind that I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue.”
Do you understand the logic of what he said? He considered joining the military because it was "an ennobling and, you know, honorable option." But there was no war on, so that's why he didn't? It isn't ennobling or honorable in peacetime?
What is Obama saying? I recall that Hillary Clinton once "disclosed" that she'd tried to join the Marines. The story fell flat. I don't think anyone took her seriously. Now Obama comes out with this weird pronouncement on joining the military.
Strange. Very strange.
September 7, 2008. Permalink
BULLETIN AT 9:24 A.M. ET: The first tracker of the day is out. Rasmussen reports the presidential race is tied, at 48 percent each for McCain and Obama. Rasmussen had Obama up three yesterday. All the polling was done in the three days following Sarah Palin's speech. Two thirds was done following McCain's speech. Tomorrow's result will be the first to report polling done entirely after the Republican convention.
UPDATE AT 7:29 A.M. ET: Zogby International has released an interactive poll showing McCain/Palin up approximately four points over Obama/Biden. Some caveats: I can't vouch for the methodology of this poll, although Zogby claims it's been tested. Also, Zogby is the only pollster, as of this hour, to show McCain ahead. He also had McCain ahead last week. So examine carefully, but with a smile.
We await the release of today's first tracker, by Rasmussen, at about 9:30 a.m. or a bit after.
Posted at 8:34 a.m. ET
There are some signs that Barack Obama may realize he has a bit of a problem. The Politico reports:
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.—His shirtsleeves are rolled up higher, his tone is a bit more biting. Stirring up supporters at a fairgrounds show barn here with a sharp critique of John McCain, Barack Obama looks and sounds like a candidate who realizes time is running out.
Haven't seen any observation like that so far in this campaign. Obama has been looking at numbers.
With an expiration date in sight on a presidential campaign that once seemed interminable, Obama enters the final 58 days with the polls tight, his opponents appropriating his mantra of change, and the political deck reshuffled with a new wild card in the first female Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin.
I wonder if he's thinking, "I should've picked Hillary." If he had, his current problems might have been avoided. He left an opening for McCain to choose a woman, and McCain chose.
Obama arrived in this battleground state Saturday with a renewed urgency and a modified stump speech, delivering his most unforgiving assessment of his challengers since the Democratic National Convention, when the Illinois senator began lambasting McCain as someone who “doesn’t get it.”
And the more he does this, the more he sounds like a conventional politician. He risks losing the enthusiasm of his supporters, many of them young, who saw him as something different. He isn't different.
Honing an “us-versus-them” battle cry, Obama is positioning himself as the champion of the working class. Venturing into towns and counties in the past week that Hillary Rodham Clinton carried by 2-to-1 margins in the Democratic primary, Obama could sound strikingly similar to his one-time rival.
“They haven’t spent any time talking about problems that ordinary Americans are going through every single day,” Obama said last week in York, Pa., echoing a theme repeated throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Michigan. “Not a word about how we are going to make college more affordable, how we are going to create more jobs here in the United States. Not a word about how to increase people’s incomes.
Apparently, he hasn't been listening to Sarah. Sarah Palin exudes a genuineness on bread-and-butter issues that Obama can't hope to match. She's been there, struggled to make ends meet, and never pulled in the fortunes that the Obamas made. Obama is late on this one.
On Saturday, standing on a show barn floor layered with hay, Obama feigned disbelief as he railed against McCain for telling Republican convention delegates last week that “change is coming” to Washington.
“Now think about this coming from the party that’s been in charge for 8 years, they’ve been running the show,” Obama said. “John McCain brags, ‘90% of the time I have voted with George Bush. He and I, we were right there’ and suddenly he’s the change agent. Hah!
“What are these guys talking about?” Obama asked near the end of his riff. “Do you think we haven’t been paying attention over the past 8 years?”
The trouble is, McCain and Palin have now successfully carved out an image of themselves as renegades, and both have records to prove it. Where's Obama's actual record? He's never taken on any entrenched interest. The McCain ads will hammer that home.
You get the sense that the McCain team has outmaneuvered the Obama group, and that it's starting to show. Just look at the two conventions. The Democratic convention was a coronation. The Republican convention was scrappy and alive. The Dems connected with the political establishment and the self-appointed "observers." The Republicans connected with Sarah Palin's people. Impact made.
September 7, 2008. Permalink
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2008
BULLETIN AT 11:01 P.M. ET: Via NewsBusters: A new whisper campaign is forming in the blogosphere and creeping into web search engines across the internet as a self proclaimed e-zine called "LA Progressive" is spreading a false rumor that Sarah Palin called Barack Obama 'Sambo' while dining in an Alaska restaurant. Charley James, the author of the article that is unlikely to have his blogspot site shut down for Obama bias, also claims through 'anonymous sources' that Palin called Hillary Clinton a "b#^@h" in the same breath. It is getting pretty desperate out there.
COMMENT: This is utterly revolting. No evidence is presented.
UPDATE AT 10:48 P.M. ET: NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton marched for labor and stumped with Democrats on Saturday, but sidestepped questions about the woman who has taken her place as the nation's most-talked-about female leader. Clinton brushed aside questions about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin during appearances at New York City's annual Labor Day parade and later during a stop on Staten Island.
COMMENT: Smart move on her part. If she attacks Palin, she risks losing the working-class women she'll need in a future campaign. Hillary does for Hillary.
QUOTE OF THE DAY, from Richard Stevenson, political editor of The New York Times, complaining that Sarah Palin hasn't granted press interviews: "One of the costs to them of not putting her out there," he added, "is the coverage is going to define her as much as the campaign."
Costs? Did the man say "costs"? Is he saying, in what appears to be a Freudian slip, that the coverage will be negative? I suspect he is, because he knows that it will be. What an admission of bias.
LEFTIST COMMON SENSE?
Posted at 10:06 p.m. ET
I've said before that some of the best writing on American politics comes from British journalists. Now, it's true that the usual left-wing UK writers have joined the assault on Sarah Palin, describing her the way leftist Brits would - scary, monstrous, John McCain's mistake, and other things they've said a zillion times about anyone to the right of them.
But Nick Cohen has always been a leftist Brit with sense - it must be a gene variation - and he often goes his own way. Here he risks life and limb with a caustic view of how his American comrades have treated Sarah. The title alone tells the story: When Barack's berserkers lost the plot.
It's very good. Read on:
During the 1997 British general election, the late Lord Jenkins said that Tony Blair was like a man walking down a shiny corridor carrying a precious vase. He was the favourite and held his fate in his hands. If he could just reach the end of the hall without a slip, a Labour victory was assured. The same could have been said of the American Democrats last week. But instead of protecting their precious advantage, they succumbed to a spasm of hatred and threw the vase, the crockery, the cutlery and the kitchen sink at an obscure politician from Alaska.
For once, the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was 'the other' - the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against...
...But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk. On the one hand, the media treated her as a sex object. The New York Times led the way in painting Palin as a glamour-puss in go-go boots you were more likely to find in an Anchorage lap-dancing club than the Alaska governor's office.On the other, liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance.
The man knows the American press, especially the liberal contingent, which is the major chunk of it.
Hatred is the most powerful emotion in politics. At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.
In this, American liberals are no different from the politically committed the world over.
But they're so expert at it.
When a hate campaign goes wrong, however, disaster follows. And everything that could go wrong with the campaign against Palin did.
And then came the Palin surprise.
As it was, her family appeared on stage without a goitre or a club foot between them, and Palin made a fighting speech that appealed over the heads of reporters to the public we claim to represent. 'I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,' she said as she deftly detached journalists from their readers and viewers. 'I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country.'
I told you this was good. And more:
'When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang,' said GK Chesterton, and when the politically committed go on a berserker you should listen for the sound of their own principles smacking them in the face.
Journalists who believe in women's equality should not spread sexual smears about a candidate, or snigger at her teenage daughter's pregnancy, or declare that a mother with a young family cannot hold down a responsible job for the pragmatic reason that they will look like gross hypocrites if they do.
There is a British precedent.
In Britain, the most snobbish attacks on Margaret Thatcher did not come from aristocrats but from the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who opined that Thatcherism was the 'anarchism of the lower middle classes' and the liberal Jonathan Miller, who deplored her 'odious suburban gentility.'
And they think of themselves as the good people.
In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician's enemies who lose elections, but his friends.
That's one of the best columns I've read recently, and it's by a leftist. This proves that a leftist, like a German Shepherd, can perform valuable services for humankind when properly trained and subdued.
September 6, 2008. Permalink
Posted at 7:10 p.m. ET
Senators McCain and Obama will both be at Ground Zero this Thursday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
We all know that these attacks have been the subject of a number of crazed, but probably lucrative, conspiracy theories. Some of the most vivid involve Building 7, one of the smaller buildings in the World Trade Center complex, which collapsed late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001.
By coincidence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released Friday the final report on what happened to Building 7. It demolishes the quack theories, although a core of professional crackpots will probably still claim that Bush did it himself:
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has at last determined, once and for all, what brought down one of the World Trade Center buildings during the 9/11 attacks.
The fall of the 47-story World Trade Center's Building 7 at 5:20 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, was primarily due to fires from the building itself, NIST announced Friday, following an extensive, three-year investigation. This was the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building, the agency said.
The first known instance? Ah hah! Must have been an inside job.
No, not quite, says the Institute:
"Our study found that the fires in WTC 7, which were uncontrolled but otherwise similar to fires experienced in other tall buildings, caused an extraordinary event," said lead investigator Shyam Sunder. "Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down."
The trapezoid-shaped Building 7 was connected to the World Trade Center plaza by an elevated walkway. The building was damaged and set afire by debris - including an enormous broadcast antennae - from the collapse of the nearby North Tower; it burned all day and collapsed itself late that afternoon.
The report addresses the conspiracy theories directly:
"Video and photographic evidence combined with detailed computer simulations show that neither explosives nor fuel oil fires played a role in the collapse of WTC 7," Mr. Sunder said.
I did not see a single broadcast story on this report, which I think is sad, because journalistic silence permits the conspiracy nuts to operate. If any of you heard or saw such a story, please let us know.
As far as I'm concerned, that closes the book on the case of Building 7. A new Building 7 has taken its place.
September 6, 2008. Permalink
UPDATE AT 3:06 P.M. ET: I just watched part of the McCain/Palin rally in Colorado Springs, carried on both CNN and Fox. Large crowd, great energy. Sarah Palin is certainly compelling. Or, maybe we should say comPALINg. The words just flow. She speaks with such confidence. McCain was also fine, but the fact is that she outshines him. That's okay. He has the confidence to accept that, and his life story makes the man.
A few points: Both Palin and McCain delivered the same speeches they did at the convention - now the standard stump speeches. That's generally what's done, and reporters get driven crazy hearing the same lines over and over. The problem is that, with these live TV cable-news pickups, the public now hears the same lines again and again. Not good. They're going to have to have some daily inserts that can quickly be added when the cameras are on.
Also, they've got to get some diversity into the crowd. Give out tickets. Promise ice-cream cones. Anything. But some diversity is expected these days, and you don't want TV pundits harping on the sameness of those crowds. Why give them a talking point?
The campaign is off to a good start, with lots of juice. Now let's hope for a boost in the polls.
NOTE AT 2:07 P.M. ET: Reader Robert Adair asks an intriguing question about Joe Biden: "In my business we would question Biden's experience this way: Does he have 35 years of experience, or does he have ONE YEAR of experience 35 times? I would suggest it's the latter."
Hmm. Provocative point.
Posted at Posted at 1:27 p.m. ET
Now we're talking. Both of our usual trackers for Saturday have now been posted, with the second happier than the first.
As reported earlier, Rasmussen shows Obama up by three. He was up two yesterday. Not good.
But Gallup now reports Obama up only two. He was up four yesterday, and up eight on Tuesday. A smile starts to form. Gallup says:
This includes a strong night for McCain in Friday's interviewing, the first full night of interviewing following his acceptance speech.
The test for McCain will be whether he can do more than return the race to the absolute tie seen at the beginning of the convention period, and actually lead Obama by a significant margin for the first time since late April/early May.
So far, so good. The entire impact of the GOP convention will first show up in Monday's result. But we're in very competitive territory, especially with the possibility that tomorrow's result, and Monday's, could show further McCain gains. That is our hope.
September 6, 2008. Permalink
UPDATE AT 9:51 A.M. ET: I just checked and found that the full impact of the Obama bounce from his convention wasn't reported in the tracking polls until this past Tuesday, the Tuesday following the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
BULLETIN AT 9:35 A.M. ET: The first tracker for Saturday is out, and it's disappointing. Two thirds of the polling was done after Sarah Palin's acceptance speech, and a third after John McCain's. Rasmussen reports Obama has a three-point lead. He had a two-point lead yesterday.
This is not good, but there's no reason to panic. Sometimes it takes a few days for reactions to materialize. However, I'd hoped Rasmussen this morning would show a further erosion for Obama, even a McCain lead, and that hasn't happened. But all polls have a margin of error and statistical noise. We may be seeing that.
One encouraging result reported by Rasmussen:
As McCain has begun to chip away as Obama’s convention bounce, most of his gains have come among women voters. Obama still leads 51% to 44% among women, but that seven-point edge is just half the fourteen point lead he enjoyed last Tuesday. McCain leads by three among men, little changed in recent days.
We await Gallup this afternoon.
Posted at 8:05 a.m. ET
So far, the crowds for McSarah have been great. The two were in Wisconsin and Michigan yesterday, and tickets are already gone for their rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this afternoon. Some might charge that they're only attracting the base of the GOP. I doubt that, and the story rebuts the charge, but attracting the base is also critical this year. If the base is fired up, registered voters become likely voters, and that's what we need.
The Politico reports:
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich.—John McCain may have swapped one enthusiasm gap for another.
As he touched down in suburbs outside of Milwaukee and Detroit, the just crowned Republican nominee found himself first on the newly-fashioned signs proclaiming the unlikely GOP ticket but seemingly second in the hearts of the thousands who thronged rallies to catch their first glimpse in person of Sarah Palin.
McCain drew loud applause, first at a morning appearance in the downtown of a quaint, Republican-leaning Wisconsin village and then at a more-boisterous amphitheater rally here in Michigan’s working-class Macomb County.
Yet it was Palin who many, especially women, in both crowds were thrilled to see up close just days after she exploded onto the national political scene.
Clutching signs with messages such as “Girl Power” and “Sarah Is My American Idol,” moms and their daughters lined the barricades just outside The Chocolate Shop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that served as the backdrop for the rally.
Heaven? Are we in Heaven?
But Palin, with her out-of-nowhere debut, compelling personal story and first-rate convention speech, has injected new life into the GOP and piqued the curiosity of voters who are only mildly interested in politics.
Mary Beth Brennan of Linden, Michigan caught some of Palin’s speech Wednesday, was impressed and let a political junkie friend drag her here to Freedom Theater to see the GOP ticket Friday night, where many women were sporting just-made “Go Sarah Go” buttons on their shirts.
I want my button.
On the rope line following both events, she received as much attention as McCain, with many women reaching out for handshakes and holding up digital cameras. Some clutched copies of this week’s Newsweek in hopes of adding an autograph to the cover of the new Republican duo.
In Wisconsin, after one side of the podium received attention from McCain, they quickly began a “Sarah” chant in hopes of attracting his number two. They had to wait as she and McCain first dashed into the ice cream shop, where Palin ordered, naturally, Moose Tracks.
This is key:
But for the many who showed up to see the newly-minted Republican team, it wasn’t any issue or political posture that had brought them out.
It was just a women that they saw a lot of themselves in. Or, as one homemade sign put it, “Pro-Life Hockey Moms 4 Palin.”
That's the heart of her appeal. If used right, it can add enough to bring victory closer.
September 6, 2008. Permalink
Posted at 8:01 a.m. ET
The great Ed Lasky, of American Thinker, e-mails us an alert about one Hollis French. Remember the name? We referred to him yesterday. He's the Democrat up in Alaska who's heading the "investigation" into Sarah Palin's activities as governor. No doubt it will be a fair, thoughtful, balanced probe.
Ed did a search giving the keywords "Hollis French Obama." He sends us this raw extract for results 1-10:
1.. Riehl World View: Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin
Sep 2, 2008 ... "Senator Obama has a plan to end our dependence on foreign
oil and reduce skyrocketing energy prices," said Senator Hollis French of
- 74k - Cached - Similar pages
2.. Media Blog on National Review Online
Sep 4, 2008 ... Obama Using Hollis French to 'Fact-Check' Palin? [Greg
Pollowitz]. I was reading the Democrats' fact-check of Palin's speech (which
- 17k - Cached - Similar pages
3.. Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin - White House '08
Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin - Talk about a
conflict of interest. This guy French should either step down, or at least
stop talking ...
- 46k - Cached - Similar pages
4.. Alaska's Hollis French should recuse himself from Palin Probe by ...
Alaska's Hollis French is a full blown Obama supporter, which is a
conflict of interest in this case being drummed up on Palin. Dan Riehl has
the details. ...
- 96k - Cached - Similar pages
5.. Media Blog on National Review Online
Sep 3, 2008 ... That would be Hollis French, Obama surrogate. (See below.)
Maybe the Times thinks Caroline Kennedy should have been consulted, too? ...
- Similar pages
This is the way the Obama people play ball. There's no "change" there. It's Chicago street politics on a world stage. Starry-eyed young people, take note.
The Alaska probe is a farce, and should be exposed. Where are all those "investigative reporters" we've heard so much about?
September 6, 2008. Permalink