McCain Takes the Lead?
John McCain has taken the lead for the first time in the RealClearPolitics Electoral College projection, with a 274 to 264 margin, when tossups are included. (Barack Obama’s still up 228 to 178 in states with solid margins.)
Now, this is one projection. Electoral-Vote.com still has Virginia tied and therefore has the race at Obama 264, McCain 261. Even in the RCP calculation, McCain’s leads in several important battlegrounds are razor thin and quite possibly statistical anomalies. Still, this is the first time he’s actually had the lead since he and Obama became their parties’ presumptive nominees.
Further, McCain is moving up in almost every national poll. LAT/Bloomberg shows a statistical tie (Obama 45, McCain 43). CNN has it Obama 46, McCain 43 – half the lead he enjoyed just days ago. Gallup has it Obama 45, McCan 44. Reuters/Zogby has it McCain 46, Obama 41 among likely voters, a twelve point swing in a month and McCain’s first lead in that survey.
Despite this post’s headline, I would still characterize the race as tied, if not one in which Obama has a very slight edge. But it’s very interesting that, despite Obama having made no serious gaffes and having a country palpably ready to change direction, he’s losing ground.
Several possible explanations come to mind:
- The Russia-Georgia crisis has brought national security to the forefront, to McCain’s advantage;
- McCain’s strong showing at the Rick Warren Saddleback thing the other night helped him;
- It’s summertime, nobody’s paying much attention, and this is some statistical fluke;
- Negative advertising works
Perhaps all of those things are true.
In any event, as I wrote in some detail yesterday, the real campaign starts Monday with the kickoff of the convention season. Barring a major crisis, Obama will get a significant, if short-lived, bounce from his vice presidential announcement and what I presume will be a well-orchestrated convention. He’s a gifted speech maker and he’ll almost certain give a great acceptance speech. Not as many people will watch as was the case in the days of three channels but he’ll make a lot of people who want to vote for him but are uneasy about him more comfortable.
It’ll then be up to McCain to counter that with a strong VP choice — I do think that, unlike most years, it’ll really matter for him — and convention of his own. After that, it’s game on for two months.