Obama Retakes Lead

Chuck Todd and company note that Barack Obama has rebounded in the polls and that we’re now “about where the race was before the conventions.”

The reason why Obama’s up: women. According to the latest New York Times/CBS survey, Obama is ahead overall by five points (48%-43%); a week ago after the GOP convention, CBS had McCain up two points overall (46%-44%) and five points among women (47%-42%). But in the latest poll, Obama once again has the advantage with female voters (54%-38%). The same holds true in a new national Quinnipiac survey, which finds Obama with a four-point lead over McCain (49%-45%) and a 14-point edge among women (54%-40%). Every poll out this week — whether by a good pollster or a mediocre one — has shown the same trend: movement towards Obama.

Sure enough, the polls almost all show a slight Obama lead:

And, yes, the trendlines show that we’re pretty close to where we were in August:

Todd’s speculation centers on backlash to a perception that McCain’s ads are too negative or the shrinking of the Palin Effect, both of which are possible.  It strikes me that the far more powerful explanation, though, is a familar one:  Events, dear boys.  Events.

This race has always been the Democrats’ to lose.  The country is tired of Bush, tired of the war in Iraq, and tired of a sagging economy.  Rightly or wrongly, the party of the incumbent president gets blamed for these things.

For a brief moment, it looked like events had turned in McCain’s favor.  Namely, there’s now a widespread sense that the Surge — which he supported, indeed, led the call for, and his opponent fought — was a success and that we’re on the verge of salvaging something close enough to victory in Iraq.

The failure of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG, though, have turned the focus back to the economy.  That’s almost always an advantage for Democrats, since they’re the party that favors governmental intervention.  It’s doubly so in years when Republicans occupy the White House.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If the election is decided on the economy, Obama wins, perhaps easily.  If it’s decided on national security issues, McCain may pull it off.  It’s looking increasingly likely that it’ll be the former.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    The failure of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG, though, have turned the focus back to the economy. That’s almost always an advantage for Democrats, since they’re the party that favors governmental intervention. It’s doubly so in years when Republicans occupy the White House.

    Ironic that should be to their advantage given the proximate causes of those failures.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Part gravity, part the effect of hearing McCain talk about the economy, which is quite painful. Keeping Palin on script will be a problem, there is a pretty good chance she is falling in love with the sound of her own voice (to be fair, Biden suffers from this as well, but people are used to it in him).

    This could also be the work of our enemies in Spain…

  3. Michael says:

    Ironic that should be to their advantage given the proximate causes of those failures.

    Very few people care about the cause of economic (or any) failure, all they want to know is who is going to fix it without asking them to sacrifice anything.

  4. Rick Almeida says:

    Namely, there’s now a widespread sense that the Surge — which he supported, indeed, led the call for, and his opponent fought — was a success and that we’re on the verge of salvaging something close enough to victory in Iraq.

    I’d be very interested in seeing empirical evidence of this in the mass public.

  5. Triumph says:

    If it’s decided on national security issues, McCain may pull it off.

    I’m hoping that the strong stance he articulated yesterday against the Latin American country of Spain will bolster McCain’s national security cred.

    The Spaniards and their neighbors, Cuba and Venezuela, have gotten out of hand. McCain is the only candidate tough enough to take on Spain.

  6. Michael says:

    This could also be the work of our enemies in Spain…

    Yeah, I read some of the transcript, and it’s pretty obvious that McCain just couldn’t understand what she was saying. You want to go after him for trying to play it cool when he should have just admitted he was having trouble understanding what she was saying, go right ahead, but anything beyond that is quite a stretch.

  7. Michael says:

    Anjin-san, if you would like to rake Scheunemann over the coals on that issue, go right ahead. Seriously, what made him that that was a good spin?

  8. cian says:

    Michael,

    I agree with you up to a point. I listened to the recording and even though I had read a transcript previously I still couldn’t understand what she was saying.

    However, McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann has just written a letter to the Washington Post in which he says:

    “The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain’s willingness to meet Zapatero (and id’d him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview,”

    Crazy.

  9. Bithead says:

    but anything beyond that is quite a stretch.

    And pretty much par for the course, in Anjin’s case. For the rest of us, however,

    (sings) ….it’s very plain McCain did Not Dis Spain.

    OK, sorry.

  10. Michael says:

    However, McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann has just written a letter to the Washington Post

    And he should be thoroughly mocked and blamed for doing something so crazy. You can even mock/blame McCain for letting him say something so crazy, or trying to go along with it if he’s also that crazy. Once again, the supposed “gaffee” isn’t what is the most damaging, it’s the attempted spin.

    And pretty much par for the course, in Anjin’s case. For the rest of us, however,

    I don’t think you’ve got much room to criticize anybody for stretching things to attack a politician or party you don’t like, Bithead.

  11. anjin-san says:

    McCain on Spain gaffes causing him some pain…

  12. Maggie Mama says:

    Today talking heads/Dem surrogates are erroneously back on the meme “Bradley effect”.

    Dr. JJ, with the RCP average currently having Obama +1.7, wouldn’t the “Bradley effect” in actual fact give the election to McCain because respondents can’t bring themselves to say they are not voting for him?

  13. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    That’s almost always an advantage for Democrats, since they’re the party that favors governmental intervention.

    Until it’s adequately demonstrated that the current financial meltdown is a direct result of government intervention AND the Democrats in Congress are closing up shop and leaving town with their tails between their legs because of their admitted incompetence.

  14. Bithead says:

    I don’t think you’ve got much room to criticize anybody for stretching things to attack a politician or party you don’t like, Bithead.

    Ya know, somehow, I rather depended on you to say so. Somehow it adds to the stability of the world to know you’re out there pitching a moral equivaence argument at all times, and all situations.

  15. sam says:

    Until it’s adequately demonstrated that the current financial meltdown is a direct result of government intervention

    Aye, “Until”, there’s the rub. Last I heard, McCain had become a born-again regulator. He’s not gonna be out-regged by that other guy. Meanwhile on Fantasy Island, the cries of “De Palin! De Palin!” recede to a gentle sough as the shelf-life expires.

  16. Michael says:

    Ya know, somehow, I rather depended on you to say so.

    You can always count on my to point out reality.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Look, Palin has some money in her wallet right? Thus, we can logically infer that she is one of the nation’s leading experts on the economy. She probably already has a plan formulated to set everything right…

  18. rodney dill says:

    It’s close, which is probably good for the McCain camp, considering after 8 years of any administration people are ready to vote for A change as opposed to for change.
    I kind of felt I was coming out ahead in this election anyway once the Corrupt Clinton Campaign Collapsed.

  19. Michael says:

    You know, I was thinking about this whole Palin thing the other night, and something struck me. Consider the following:

    1) McCain knew of Palin’s lack of experience, despite thinking it an important qualification for POTUS
    2) McCain knew about “troopergate” before picking Palin
    3) McCain knew about Britol’s pregnancy before picking Palin
    4) McCain didn’t hesitate to pick Palin, even knowing about #1, #2 and #3
    5) McCain seems willing to let Palin continue to tarnish her reputation by repeating lies that still poll well.
    6) McCain really wanted someone else, like Lieberman

    And then I had a funny thought: Could McCain have intentionally picked a candidate that would shore up his base long enough to win the election, but one that could reasonably be expected to have to resign within a year, leaving McCain the option to pick someone he really wanted without having to justify the pick to his base?

  20. Bystander says:

    Nah. He’s not that clever.

  21. Anderson says:

    If it’s decided on national security issues, McCain may pull it off.

    Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!

    Preferably around November 1.

  22. Michael says:

    Nah. He’s not that clever.

    To be honest, if I thought he was, it would sway my opinion in his favor. Not enough to vote for him, mind you, but it I would have a more favorable view of him.

  23. sam says:

    Could McCain have intentionally picked a candidate that would shore up his base long enough to win the election, but one that could reasonably be expected to have to resign within a year, leaving McCain the option to pick someone he really wanted without having to justify the pick to his base?

    Interesting theory, but if the hypothetical is true, “McCain picks Palin; wins election; dumps Palin; picks Joe”, I think he seriously underestimated Sarah Barracuda and her ambition. I’ve been thinking about her, too. And I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s the reincarnation of Richard Nixon, with all his pettiness, vindictiveness, and paranoia–but without the intelligence. I can’t conceive of her going gently back to those long Alaska nights.

  24. just me says:

    I think in general James is right that if the economy is taking a beating the party in the WH gets slammed.

    However, Obama has some pretty big skeletons in his checkbook and advisors on the whole lending issue, and if McCain can be effective in sending the message on Obama’s connections and more importantly make those connections something media coverage worthy, it may end up hurting Obama.

    But I still think this is still Obama’s race to lose, and barring some big revelations he is likely to win the White House come November.

  25. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Notice, Obama said he could not state specifics on his plan. Could it be because he has no plan? Like McCain said, you do not get to vote Present as President. Obama got the 2nd largest amount of donations from Fredie and Fannie. Clinton appointees took millions from Fredie and Fannie. Bad loans everywhere and like good communists, they want us to pay for them. I suggest to you that if Obama is elected President and he tries to foist his agenda on this country there will be violent revolution. I fought communism in the 60s. I and millions of others are not going to let an Ayers underling subvert this country.

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    You can always count on my to point out reality.

    lol man I almost pooped myself.

    Look, Palin has some money in her wallet right? Thus, we can logically infer that she is one of the nation’s leading experts on the economy. She probably already has a plan formulated to set everything right…

    No we need the communist millionaire 0bama who don’t even know how many states we have.

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    And I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s the reincarnation of Richard Nixon, with all his pettiness, vindictiveness, and paranoia–but without the intelligence. I can’t conceive of her going gently back to those long Alaska nights.

    Ive come to a conclusion too, you smoke to much crack.
    pettiness, vindictiveness, and paranoia–but without the intelligence.=Liberal

  28. sam says:

    Ive come to a conclusion too, you smoke to much crack.
    pettiness, vindictiveness, and paranoia–but without the intelligence.=Liberal

    GA, GA…tsk, tsk, tsk. I mean, we don’t expect a lot from you around here (and believe me, you never disappoint), but, really, this is even more vacuous than your usual offering. Look, let’s try and help you and in the process save some bandwidth.

    Here’s a list of numbered responses:

    1. You’re nothing but a dirty liberal.
    2. He’s nothing but a dirty liberal.
    3. They’re nothing but dirty liberals.
    4. Evolution is the work of the Devil (and he’s a dirty liberal, too).
    5. What’s more, your mama’s a dirty liberal.
    6. Liberals are dirty.
    7. I never…

    Now, in the future, when someone posts something that you don’t like, just post a number in the comments, and sign it G.A. Phillips. This way, you won’t have to struggle with those pesky grammatical and spelling things, and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time. How’s that?

  29. Steve Verdon says:

    pettiness, vindictiveness, and paranoia–but without the intelligence.

    At first I thought he was describing Hillary!.

  30. G.A.Phillips says:

    Now, in the future, when someone posts something that you don’t like, just post a number in the comments, and sign it G.A. Phillips. This way, you won’t have to struggle with those pesky grammatical and spelling things, and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time. How’s that?

    gimp, like I need help to make fun of the likes of you, if you don’t like my offerings stop being a dumb ass liberal and coming here and talking your mindless shit, and you can take your grammatical and your spelling and stick um up your dumb ass I’m sure you got skills at doing that seeing that your head and who knows what else is up there.
    SAM, SAM, just like the last liberal clone…task, task, task. I mean, we don’t expect a lot from you around here (and believe me, you never disappoint), but, really, this is even more vacuous than your usual offering. Look, let’s try and help you and in the process save some bandwidth.

    Here’s a list of responses that might help you say what you really mean instead of bullshitting your way around everything, dude stand up and be proud of what you are:I hate bush

    i hate Christians
    i hate our military
    i hate our country
    i love terrorist
    i love abortions
    i am a Nazi
    Ima wise ass pussy but not very good at it
    evolution is true
    i hate God
    i lie about the way i think you lie
    i love communists
    I’m smart cause i can spell better then GA
    I said grammatical and boy it made me feel good
    I like monkeys donkeys and trees and talking shit on the pooter ect.ect.ect.

    and I never talk about anyones momma but I can start if you want?

  31. Floyd says:

    Hey Triumph!;
    Would Spain be one of those 57 States that Obama[AKA Axelrod’s puppet]
    was talking about??
    Almost makes you think that a “Paul/Barr” ticket could win this thing???

  32. anjin-san says:

    Looks like McCain has the nutjob vote locked up.

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    Looks like McCain has the nutjob vote locked up.

    What you and your friends change your minds anjin?

  34. anjin-san says:

    GA! You posted without mentioning “poop”. Good boy!

  35. G.A.Phillips says:

    GA! You posted without mentioning “poop”. Good boy!

    hehe