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.

NEXT: This Is What You Get When You Mess With U.S.

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  1. It coincides almost precisely with the Wall Street meltdown.

    Almost, but not quite. McCain’s downturn and Obama’s rise began a few days before the Wall Street meltdown began getting heavy play in the press.

    Convention bounces end. That’s why they’re called bounces. And that Charles Gibson interview just killed her.

  2. You know, I could never prove this is where it came from, but the first time I ever heard “wha’ happen?” was from my physics instructor about 12 years ago. He was from Cuba and was hilarious. We would go around saying “wha’ happen?” quite a bit. Now I hear sportscasters saying it all the time.

  3. Maybe the witch hunter scandal is hurting her.

  4. All the women I know hate the Palin pick. They hate the woman, hate the pandering that comes with choosing her merely for her vagina, hate her conservatism, hate other women who seemed drawn to her, hate the men who like her for her looks, had are seething with hate.

    But then the only women I know are liberals and one lone libertarian.

  5. The best thing you can say about A Mighty Wind is that it was more entertaining than this election.

  6. Me, personally, I always go all-in pre-flop with a 2, 7 off suit in the hole. Sometimes it almost works.

  7. O’Clast – sounds like you know a bunch of real fun ladies.

  8. Does this mean the 9/11 conspiracy theorists will claim the liberals tanked the stock market on purpose so they could rally the country against capitalists? I’m not up on the rules of conspiracy theories, but it makes sense for conspiracy logic to be equally valide towards either party.

  9. As BDB is fond of saying, the Palingasm has ended.

    After the lusty nature of her vagina has worn off and people actually had to listen to the shit coming out of her mouth, suddenly and unsurprisingly, people are unenthusiastic. Not many women can get behind the “no Abortion under any circumstances and victims of rape can go fuck themselves” stances.

  10. McCain was in danger of getting buried after Obama’s convention speech. He might have fallen and never gotten up again. If the only thing to interrupt that coverage had been a Joe Lieberman speech four or five days later, the election would have been over before McCain ever took the stage.

    So from that point of view, the Palin pick did what it was supposed to do. But now he’s stuck running with her.

  11. My friends, the fundamentals of my campaign are strong.

  12. McCain has run a great strategic campaign, keeping close during the adulation stage for Obama by mocking him as a celebrity and then puncturing his convention bounce with Palin. He’s also put up a pure western ticket which is a gift that will keep giving. But his weakness is the economy, Wall Street went boom, and finally Obama has stopped running against Bush, who’s not in the race, and begun hammering him. If the economic collapse gets worse, I think McCain is in trouble. If not, the wily old guy will figure out a way to regain the momentum and he’s got a lot of blue states in play now such as Minnesota, Washington, Michigan and Pennsylvania so he can conceivably gain on the squares what he might lose on the rounds.

  13. After the lusty nature of her vagina

    Five kids, man. Was it really lust-worthy?

  14. victims of rape can go fuck themselves

    Well, if they could do that, they wouldn’t need to get raped, would they?

  15. And Robert voluntarily sells his humanity for the punch-line.

  16. And Robert voluntarily sells his humanity for the punch-line.

    I, for one, appreciate his sacrifice.

  17. I’m fed up with everyone noting the Palin has a “vagina”. Can we please start talking about her tits?

  18. I, for one, appreciate his sacrifice.

    Didn’t say I didn’t. Just noting the cost.

    You know, externalities, and all that.

  19. I found this exchange fairly surreal, and there really is no more appropriate thread to note it in:

    HANNITY: One last question that I didn’t ask you: Did you watch Tina Fey on “Saturday Night Live”?

    PALIN: I watched with the volume all the way down and I thought it was hilarious, she was spot on.

    HANNITY: Do you think you could play her one day?

    PALIN: Oh absolutely. It was hilarious. Again, I didn’t hear a word she said, but the visual was spot on.

    ————

    Wha….?

  20. This was completely expected and predictable. The convention bounce tapered off as it always does. Obama’s bounce was shorter than usual because McCain’s convention bounce coincided with the end of Obama’s bounce. It happens every election and people forget it. Hell, even Walter Mondale was up after his convention.

  21. Maybe the Dems won’t blow it this year. That is marginally more good than bad.

  22. brotherben,

    You’re invited to sit in any Friday night at my place. Free beer for you.

  23. Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com produced a chart showing what he expected Obama’s and McCain’s convention bounces to look like.

    According to his chart, McCain is still bouncing a point to a point-and-a-half ahead, and the bounce won’t go away completely until October 1.

  24. Dog bites man story. I yawn.

    I am curious, though, as to how the Hope and Change candidate’s new bare-knuckles approach will play out.

    Negative campaigning works, of course, but personally, it feels a little early to me to go negative, especially when you’re running mostly on your personality (its hard to be charismatic and nasty at the same time).

  25. McCain’s pick was schrewd and a gutsy move, but also highly risky. The negative attacks ads by the McCain campaign seems to have had some positive results, but the Obama campaign has now outsourced 527’s to do the “dirty negative attack” job on McCain, which could have a significant impact, apart from the economic realities. McCain has no one with economic expertise and he is trying the populist rant, but not sure it will work. Palin is a tough cookie, but alas too inexperienced. She may surprise in the debate, but Biden’s experience may be decisive. Neither McCain nor Obama are really very good with debates, so it will be interesting, and perhaps also decisive what happens next week. McCain remains populist and in general terms, no specifics, but will be forced to be more specific.

  26. Palin getting the full Hillary press treatment (and then some) probably hasn’t helped. Also, McCain’s message is being filtered through an extraordinarily hostile media.

    In 1996, Dole could do no right, and Clinton no wrong, in the eyes of the press. I’m still amazed at how the media decided they did not like Gore in 2000 and the slanted way they covered him. Part of it is ideological (in the case of Palin), but a larger part is the media like a new face and a new story.

    Until the debates, where McCain & Palin can communicate directly (and unfiltered) as they did at the convention, they are likely to slide in the polls. Ads are not enough.

    Again, Obama should be doing much better at this point. Hillary would have been comfortably ahead.

  27. Convention bounces end. That’s why they’re called bounces. And that Charles Gibson interview just killed her.

    ’tis true. I’ve looked at the clips again, and they are even worse the second time around. Some of my nonpolitical friends thought that the foreign policy answeres were kinda’ scary. You may want to send William Kristol a note of thanks if Obama wins.

    The only way that I can see her making a comeback in the ebb and flow is if the left blogosphere gets vicious again. Whoops, there is an article about her e-mail getting hacked out there:

    http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/32838

  28. All the women I know hate the Palin pick. They hate the woman, hate the pandering that comes with choosing her merely for her vagina, hate her conservatism, hate other women who seemed drawn to her, hate the men who like her for her looks, had are seething with hate.

    But then the only women I know are liberals and one lone libertarian.

    Sounds like a really fun group of people.

  29. (its hard to be charismatic and nasty at the same time).

    Sez the guy who clearly has never ever seen an Al Pacino movie.

  30. its hard to be charismatic and nasty at the same time

    Obama just might have found the right formula: the snarky one-liner. He’s had a couple of good ones in the last few days that caused even the crankiest anti-Obama pundits to crack a smile. He’s got a dry delivery that has at least some appeal. Whether it shows in the polls will be interesting to watch.

  31. And just a couple of days ago lots of people were saying how attacking Palin was a strategic blunder and would backfire on the dems.

    Yet polls are show Palin with higher unfavorables than favorables and McCain’s poll numbers seem to be trending downwards.

    I am curious, though, as to how the Hope and Change candidate’s new bare-knuckles approach will play out.

    Why should it play out any different than any other politicians bare knuckles approach?

    Or do Americans only respond to negative attacks when the GOP does them?

    You can’t have change until you dispose of the old (and really you can’t get much older than McCain — HI-YO!!).

  32. attacking Palin was a strategic blunder

    Clearly it doesn’t come close to, say, getting involved in a land war in Asia.

  33. Obama just might have found the right formula: the snarky one-liner

    That’s not really hopetastic or changariffic, though. It’s more Biden-like.

  34. closed. Must preview.

  35. ChiTom, The Gibson interview quelled the Palin surge, not the ready for prime time yahoos who lack a wit of seriousness like Andy Sullivan who will print any damn thing that comes his way, but the fact that she did poorly in a serious setting with a non partisan professional asking the questions.

    Or do Americans only respond to negative attacks when the GOP does them?

    No, the battleground is not a level playing field because your side is still living down the sixties in the public imagination (see Forrest gump) where the legend of the spit upon veteren still exist.

  36. It’s more Biden-like.

    But with a side of ‘in the gutter, eyes on the stars,’ and hold the curmudgeon.

  37. More like Bob Newhart to my untrained senses.

  38. ChiTom, The Gibson interview quelled the Palin surge, not the ready for prime time yahoos who lack a wit of seriousness like Andy Sullivan who will print any damn thing that comes his way, but the fact that she did poorly in a serious setting with a non partisan professional asking the questions.

    alan,

    Suuuuuuuure….whatever you need to tell yourself to convince yourself of your own correctness.

    The constant flow of attacks and revelations about her lying and hypocrisy have nothing to do with it at all.

    That one interview, and only that one interview, sunk Sarah Palin. Uh-huh.
    You keep believing that.

  39. ChiTom, thanks for the entertainment. It is kind of a boring afternoon.

    The constant flow of attacks and revelations about her lying and hypocrisy have nothing to do with it at all.

    Those undecideds who the campaigns are trying to reach don’t read Michael Kinsley, and they didn’t read his devastating critique of her history of being an earmark queen. they don’t get into the details. However, far more of them have seen the Gibson interview where she came across as a neophyte job hunter with overly anxious answers to questions and bad body language. That they respond to.

  40. I think the Saturday Night Live sketch has more influence than any of us want to admit.

    “I believe that diplomacy should be the foundation of any foreign policy.”

    “And I can see Russia from my house!”

    Oof.

  41. It certainly wont help her that the female satirical genius (Mean Girls she scripted, vastly underrated) of our times looks like her spitting image.

  42. McCain will be saved by the Bradley effect. Palin has a very good shot at being president some day.

  43. The Bradley Effect will get swamped by the Democratic registration advantage. If it still exists at all.

  44. Joe,

    Surely you mean if the Democratic registration advantage exits. I’m afraid it will get swallowed up by successful Republican vote suppression and the legendary failure of youth and poor folks to show up at the polls.

  45. Surely not. On the worst polling week of the entire calendar, the most conservative (in the sense of cautious) pollster out there, Rasmussen, said it was “only” 5 points.

    Of course, we have the turnout results from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Super Tuesday to tell us differently.

  46. In the end it comes down to what the candidates will do in office. The shit the’re saying to get elected doesn’t matter, because ALL POLITICIANS LIE. It’s not too much work figuring out what the candidates will be like in office: one will be radical progressive who leans slightly socialist, and the other will be a moderate conservative who leans slightly liberal.

  47. Unlike the Bradley Effect, there is actually evidence from the recent past to demonstrate that the Democratic turnout advantage and new registration advantage exist.

    Maybe there still is a Bradley Effect, but the people in West Virgnia and Kentucky weren’t shy about telling pollsters they wouldn’t vote for the black guy when they felt that way.

  48. Barack’s problem is he may need a 7-point overall polling lead to win, given that people are more and more afraid of being called racist if they don’t support him (see the recent MSM articles suggesting only racism can explain an Obama defeat).

    This effect is probably bigger than in any past election, both because this is the biggest election in which race has been a factor and beacuse Barack’s supporters have been so enthusiastic in actively suppressing criticism through harassment (see the digital flash mobs deployed against WGN recently).

    I remember Kerry’s early exit polls, that had his campaign manager congratulating him on being President, had crazy numbers like +9 in Virginia, and that was without the racism boogeyman.

  49. I’ve never seen people so cheeery about racism.

  50. I’m afraid it will get swallowed up by successful Republican vote suppression

    Don’t worry, we’ve countered that with our massive registration of illegal immigrants and fake names.

    McCain might get the hockey moms, but he’s missing out on the cemetery-dwelling demographic.

  51. I’ve never seen people so cheeery about racism.

    I don’t know, I remember lots of cheering for me.

  52. I see this year ACORN and TheMedia will be the Diebold machines of the right.

  53. When you’re both asserting that there is widespread racism among the electorate and condemning the candidate (‘s supporters’ friends. Who you don’t link to) of making false charges of racism, it probablly means your candidate is losing to a black guy.

  54. Racism blurs judgment, which is why McCain/Palin will win. Nothing cheery about.

  55. Lefiti, you know so much that just a’int so.

  56. When you’re both asserting that there is widespread racism among the electorate and condemning the candidate (‘s supporters’ friends. Who you don’t link to) of making false charges of racism, it probablly means your candidate is losing to a black guy.

    Nah. It just means that the polls are going to be skewing toward Obama even more than they usually skew to the Dem, because people are going to lie about voting for him to avoid being thought of as racists.

    How big the “Bradley Effect” will be, no one knows. Did anyone do a decent analysis of it during the primaries? I seem to remember some discussion back and forth, but don’t remember any specifics.

  57. RC Dean,

    Weigel had a few posts on the Bradley Effect.

    One point of data – there were more primaries and caucuses in which Obama outperformed his polling than in which he underperformed his polling.

    Of course, those were Democratic Party primary voters. Draw your own conclusions.

  58. I see this year ACORN and TheMedia will be the Diebold machines of the right.

    Ha! Diebold! How many indictments for vote fraud have they got so far?

    Pikers.

  59. the Bradley Effect… One point of data – there were more primaries and caucuses

    I did great in the primaries too.

    Dems are more likely to call Republicans racist than other Dems. Go figure.

  60. http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009189

    So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board. But hey, who needs voter ID laws?

    We wish this were an aberration, but allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

    The best part?

    Operating in at least 38 states (as well as Canada and Mexico), Acorn pushes a highly partisan agenda, and its organizers are best understood as shock troops for the AFL-CIO and even the Democratic Party. As part of the Fannie Mae reform bill, House Democrats pushed an “affordable housing trust fund” designed to use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac profits to subsidize Acorn, among other groups. A version of this trust fund actually passed the Republican House and will surely be on the agenda again next year

  61. TheMedia! ACORN! REVERSE RACISM! IT WAS STOLEN!

  62. One of the things I agree with conservatives about is that the left needs to stop bellyaching about “fraud” every time it loses an election.

    We’ll see if the right will do the conspiracy theories and naval gazing this time. It would be a refreshing change of pace.

  63. Bye Bye Obama?
    Posted on September 13, 2008, 8:25pm | Michael Young

    Four days, fourteen hours, and four minutes.

  64. Some ACORN voter registration drives pay people by the number of registrations they get. Sometimes, people screw Acorn, submit phony forms, take the money, and bail.

    So, the fact that ACORN on occasion gets defrauded shows that voter registrations drives are bad. What’s that you say?

    …even the Democratic Party Yeah, that’s what I thought this was about.

  65. Barack needs to tell his wife to stay home and keep her recessed jaws shut.

  66. Wha’ Happen? How about this? McCain is a distinctly unsavory character. Many conservatives – including the staid George Will – are realizing that McCain is tempermental, unpresidential, and downright scary.

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