Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Close? or So Far Away?

I was reading through the post yesterday from Venice and I agree with his concern about the strength of poll numbers, the chances that things will look very different in two weeks than they do today, etc. It's an interesting morning to blog about this, what with Obama leaving the campaign trail to be with "Toot," his grandmother. Andrew Sullivan describes their relationship accurately, I think, by saying that if she passes away Obama will in essence be losing, "his last parent." His mother passed a few years back, and his grandfather and father are both gone.

Here are a few of my thoughts on Obama leaving the rallys and hooplah for a couple days, and on the polls and what they mean:
  1. Polls: I think there are a couple sites, Five Thirty Eight and Pollster.com in particular that do a good overlap of poll tracking and accompanying analysis. While I understand what Venice is pointing out about the fact that Obama's unprecedented support in some states doesn't necessarily translate to wins there, what I think is worth noting is that maps on both sites listed above calculate whether states are in one column or another (or somewhere between) based on composite poll numbers... hence, not comparison to past performance in a given venue. Below are some of Nate Silver from Five Thirty Eight's thoughts on Saturday's poll numbers and the talk of the race tightening:
  2. Between "Joe the Plumber", "spread the wealth", "I'm not George Bush", etc., however, McCain at least now seems to have a few somewhat more constructive talking points (in that sense, the fact that the Ayers attacks went over like a lead balloon at the debate might have done him a favor). So some of those crestfallen conservatives might have moved back into the likely voter universe...

    McCain's other problem is that the polls in battleground states have not really tightened at all. Obama gets good numbers today, for instance, in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Florida. Obama presently has something like a 3:1 advantage in advertising, and most of that advertising is concentrated in battleground states. As such, this may serve as a hedge against any improvements that McCain is able to make elsewhere in the country.
  3. Leaving the Trail: I think that Obama's departure for Hawaii at this particular moment is a reasonable thing, something most Americans will understand, and potentially something that the campaign will benefit from. Why? Well, it would seem to me that it would be hard to hit hard at a guy who's currently going home to see his sick grandma for perhaps the last time, but based on the past couple months nothing would surprise me. Perhaps his grandma 0nce had tea with some terrorists and we'll hear about it from some Sarah Palin rally today. Meanwhile, the rallys will go on with Michelle Obama, Clinton, Biden, Richardson, and the whole Democratic support team swooshing in to help out in Barack's absence. I think this whole event will work out to a net neutral for the campaign, even in light of how late on the moment is.

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