News from the Votemaster
On the heels of the Politico story we discussed yesterday about how many Republican insiders are very unhappy about the way McCain's campaign is going, John McCain has shaken up his campaign staff, giving Steve Schmidt full operational control. Rick Davis will continue as nominal campaign manager but with greatly reduced responsibilities. Schmidt is one of Karl Rove's pupils so we can expect the mud to fly shortly. This is the second major reorganization of McCain's staff in the past year. Usually it means there's a problem somewhere. Schmidt's job is to fix it.
Speaking of mud, Fox News has been caught red-handed using Photoshopped images of two New York Times reporters that make them look somewhat sinister. Photoshop is a great tool and is widely used by professional photographers but when news organizations use it to make people they don't like look scary, that violates all conceivable professional ethics. The really interesting question here is whether Fox thought nobody would notice or just didn't care.
The National Journal reports on a Time poll in which 60% of the respondents said that liked Barack Obama more than they like John McCain and only 23% said they liked McCain more. Historically, people tend to vote for the candidate they like best, rather than the one who knows more about government or even the one who favors their interests. Almost nobody thought George Bush knew more about governing than Al Gore in 2000, yet Gore did not get a landslide because many people thought Bush was a nice friendly guy, someone you could have a beer with, rather than a lecture on global warming. Being liked is the key to winning elections in America (unlike many other countries in which the candidates' proposed policies are what matters). On this score, Obama is currently ahead. Since it will be difficult for McCain to raise his likeability--he is what he is-- his campaign will probably focus on reducing Obama's.
Pollster John Zogby wrote a column about how the red/blue divide is fading away. He says the key new groups are the Spring-forward and Fall-back voters, which he names the Equinox voters. The Spring forwards are people who are doing well in the new information and service economy. They are well educated, making good money, and located in New England, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, the West Coast, and other areas. People like this used to be (Rockefeller) Republicans but now they are solidly Democratic. The Fall back-ers are blue-collar workers in the rust belt and elsewhere who have seen their manufacturing jobs vanish and their lives get worse. The old American dream of having your children do better than you seems a distant reach for them. They used to be the core of the Democratic coalition, but in recent years they are becoming more and more Republican, largely on cultural issues like abortion (due to Richard Nixon's Southern strategy and Karl Rove's genius). We are likely to see this theme a lot in the coming year.
Pollster.com has a graph showing all the national Obama-McCain polls since the start of 2007. McCain got a bump after he clinched the nomination. Now Obama is getting a bump. The current average of recent polls puts Obama ahead by 4.5%.
Darcy Burner (D) is challenging Rep. Dave Reichert (R) in WA-08 again this year. He barely beat her in 2006. Yesterday, her house burned down. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire but suspect a faulty lamp may have started the blaze. Darcy, her husband, her son, and her puppy were not injured but her cat died in the fire.
We have a few polls in the Northeast today. Nothing spectacular.
-- The Votemaster