Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can McCain still Win?

I try to stay away from commenting on this highly charged presidential campaign, but we have now entered the final countdown and a couple of observations are worth making, particularly since the press is currently riding Obama triumphalism.

The numbers that are on the board now are perhaps 49% for Obama and 43% for McCain. Obama has realistically peaked, particularly since Colin Powell has endorsed him, while McCain will surely grow. I would expect that if nothing changes much these numbers would tend to converge to a more natural 1% percent separation, as has occurred in most of the past two man races. It seems that only very rarely can a given candidate convince more that fifty percent of the population to support him. The best he can hope for is to convince some of the fifty percent supporting his rival to stay home. I may sound cynical, but do the numbers.

All things been equal, Obama’s support will actually be tending to fade, although his massive media advertising may well hold it steady, and McCain’s support should be rising while the economic fears begin to fade and market volatility dies down. The question right now is whether Colin Powell is worth a last bounce for Obama

The other thing now going for McCain is that as the economic fears quiet, the voters may be prepared to support a maverick slate. They very naturally migrated to the umbrella of Obama for the simple reason he truly represents business as usual in Washington. To think otherwise is ludicrous, regardless of the claims to the contrary. The voters instinctually understand that with Obama, the only thing that will really change is the name on the door.
No man with a good idea will fail to share it over a year long primary race. That is why we know that this man does not represent change. There were no ideas that were not parroted straight from the Democrat playbook. And he is very much an actor saying his lines while dodging every test with sophistry and legalese. That is what he was trained in.

The problem McCain faces, is that he is a true maverick and his choice of running mate gives him an Energy Czar who has already tamed the dragon in the one area that he needs a strong maverick lieutenant. When Americans are afraid, they will not support a real change agent. Yet on the files that he is visibly strongest which is security and foreign affairs, he is head and shoulders above Obama, and that is mostly because of both experience and direct training in the military. The military trained him, as they trained his father and grandfather for high command.

Therefore a break on those files even at this late hour could accelerate his climb back into contention. Remember that the Pallin bounce showed that he could hit fifty percent and that the attack ads against her have now run their course allowing a return of her natural base to the voting booth.

It is curious. For the first time since Kennedy, America has a choice between a battle tested leader who did not dodge the draft and yet one more machine politician. Unlike Kennedy, they are not the same person. And we are really at war. Both in the Middle East and against time to get our energy house in order. Fine words will not produce a tank of affordable gasoline for the man in the street. energy will be front and center for the next four years because we have to replace millions of barrels of oil for the US economy to keep it running smoothly.
Regardless, a shift of three points by both parties in their natural direction can completely reverse this electoral outcome. Both are quite capable of occuring, however unlikely it may seem. A few second thoughts about Obama will quickly lose him three to four points, while a slight surge for McCain will give him three to four points. It is almost out of reach but just almost.
That is why the Obama attack ads will be unrelenting over the next two weeks.

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