Hit & Run

McCain's Polls: Wha' Happen'?

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According to the aggregator at Pollster.com, Barack Obama has bounced back to a narrow lead over John McCain. The Democrats bottomed out in the mid-40s after the GOP convention and after the Palin pick, but there's been a steady fade for McCain since last week. It coincides almost precisely with the Wall Street meltdown.

McCain's holding steady in the state polls, but he's still down, and they lag a week behind the national tracking polls. He's outperforming Bush '04 in Michigan and New Hampshire, but the newest polls in some Bush states (New Mexico, Virginia) have Obama's lead in those states immune to the convention bounce. Compare Obama's slight disadvantage right now to Kerry's oh-god-shoot-me-now implosion four years ago.

Another possible factor weakening the Macster: a decline in cases of Palinmania.

Since Sept. 13, Palin's unfavorables have climbed from 30 percent to 36 percent. Meanwhile, her favorables have slipped from 52 percent to 48 percent. That's a three-day net swing of -10 points, and it leaves her in the Sept. 15 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll tied for the smallest favorability split (+12)** of any of the Final Four. [UPDATE: The Sept. 17 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll shows Palin at 47 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable--an even narrower +10 split.] Over the course of a single weekend, in other words, Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least.

There was a moment when some Republicans, here in D.C., dreamed that Palin had so rattled the Obama campaign and message that the Hopemonger couldn't come back. Then the Feiler Faster thesis got to work, and Americans got as normalized to Palin in two weeks as they've gotten normalized to Obama in a year. The new CBS poll shows Obama re-building the usual gender gap over McCain. It's one poll, but it suggests that McCain's gender politics are drawing diminishing returns.