Monday, September 8, 2008

Running Scared: Dems Freaked by Palin

I engaged in a guilty pleasure over the weekend. I listened to Air America, where the talk show hosts are generally childish and seem to believe that vapid mockery constitutes serious, informed fact-oriented discussion. This past weekend, they were even more vapid than usual. Rather than discuss the accomplishments of VP candidate Sarah Palin, mockery of her Alaskan accent and speculation about her pregnant daughter were the topics du jour. There was something more, however, a palpable feeling that oozed out of the radio: Fear. Fear and panic. Right now, the Democrats have nothing to fear but panic itself. Palin, love her or hate her, is undeniably a sensation with momentum. The Dems know this, and they are frightened because they know this: GOP activists report with relief that socially conservative voters who might have stayed home on Election Day say they will turn out now, while others say they will campaign more actively for the ticket. Among those coming out of the woodwork, activists say, are some who have not been active before, such as parents of special-needs children who feel a bond with Palin. The reaction was slower for less-religious Republicans, including ones with military backgrounds who wondered about Palin's qualifications, but after her tough convention speech, many of them are also energized. [Source] The polls bear this out, too. The Los Angeles Times writes today about McCain's lead over Obama, thanks to the "Sarah Bounce." The poll, based on interviews done Friday through Sunday and conducted in conjunction with USA Today, finds that among all registered voters, the McCain ticket now leads Obama's, 50% to 46%. That's an 8-percentage-point turnabout in a matter of a few weeks; in a comparable survey taken Aug. 21 through Aug. 23, Obama led among registered voters, 47% to 43%. [Source] They are scared. They're soiling their pants, just as Adam McKay is in his post "We're Gonna Frickin' Lose this Thing" on the Huffington Post today. Poll after poll after poll shows McCain leading Obama. From the Phoenix Business Journal today: A Zogby International poll gives McCain a 50 percent to 46 percent edge over Obama. The poll, taken Sept. 5 and 6, interviewed more than 2,000 adults. A Gallup tracking poll of 2,700 voters now gives McCain a 48 percent to 45 percent lead. That poll was taken over the weekend. A USA Today poll done in conjunction with Gallup also gives McCain the lead with 54 percent of the vote compared with 44 percent for Obama. That poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters this weekend. [Source] The reaction in polling must have spurred a few frantic conference calls between Democratic strategists within the past 72 hours. They undoubtedly discussed how Obama's VP pick Joe Biden can be prepped for the inevitable showdown between him and Palin. They probably also wondered why so many people dislike Biden. Overall, 36% of voters now rate McCain's selection of Palin as "excellent,” which is higher than was measured in reaction to Obama's selection of Joe Biden. Conversely, the percent of voters who rated McCain's selection of Palin as "poor" was 24% and according to Gallup that is also a high number. [Source] Of course, polls are not infallible and are often proven to be an inaccurate measure of how voters around the country really feel. Even a poll that gets it right today may be obsolete next week, as voters change their minds based on conversations with friends and family, news events, and other factors., for example, tells us that we should "Stop Obsessing Over Polls." There is some validity to that argument. Nevertheless, polls are the best measure available to us, imperfect or not, and polls drive the tactics of the strategists. Ultimately, the only poll that really matters will be taken on Election Day in November. RELATED: Gallup Poll: McCain 50%, Obama 46% MSNBC Ousts Olbermann, Matthews as Anchors of Political Events