Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Election Has Not Happened Yet

Just a quick reminder to the media: the election is a week from now and has not occurred yet. With all of the reporting lately on Obama's poll numbers and that 60+ Democratic Congress, one would think that November 4 has come and gone and Obama was president-elect and Pelosi and Reid the two most powerful people in Washington. Not so fast.

While it may be true that Obama's lead in the polls is a very high 16 points, he also led by 10 points (which is considered a sizable margin) against Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primaries. For those of you who forgot, Obama lost that state. Why? Numerous factors were involved - a good ground game by Clinton, an outpouring of female voters, and other unknown variables.

So who is predicting all of this Obama and Democratic-led hoopla? The media, the pundits, and also the McCain campaign. Obama and his staffers like to remind themselves of what happened in New Hampshire and say that they are playing it like they are 10 points down, not 16 up. Obama reminded his supporters in New Hampshire that you have to run through the finish line and not let up during the last portion of the race:

But McCain seems to be jumping on the fact that many people have "written him off." He continues to point to the poll numbers, reminding people that he is down by a lot:

While McCain's strategy of playing the underdog may work, it also is a big gamble (like most of his campaign since picking Palin). While it may get some voters to go to the polls because they think they can help give McCain a surge in the election, it could also get people to either stay home (thinking that it is a lost cause to vote for him when he is down by so much) or vote for Obama (for the same reason). A gamble, but like McCain's other gambles (see: Palin), it may not work out.

Through all of this we have the media fanning the flames from the sidelines. With headlines like "Republicans scramble after Stevens conviction" and "Polls show McCain not making up ground in Ohio," it's hard to imagine that many in the media do not forsee an Obama victory next Tuesday. The words "scramble" and "not making up ground" seem to be based on the assumption that Republicans are panicked and McCain is desperately seeking to catch up to Obama. We do not know if these things are true (though, to be fair about the Stevens article, some Republicans are asking Alaskans to vote for Stevens even if they think he's guilty because if he steps down the Alaskan governor (a Republican) will be able to appoint a conservative replacement - that's just desperate). Polls are not 100% accurate, and we still do not know the full extent of the Bradley Effect. Many pundits will say, "Oh, well a lot has changed since then there are plenty of excuses that people can come up with to not vote for Obama than they could have with Tom Bradley." I just do not buy this. If someone is embarassed to say that they do not want to vote for Obama because he is black, are they going to say that they don't like him because he is a Muslim or is buddy-buddy with Bill Ayers (two things that have been definitively debunked)? The Bradley effect assumes that those who take part in it have shame; people who claim Obama is a Muslim or is going to take advice from some hippie like Bill Ayers have none of it.

We should all take Obama's advice and not count the chickens before they hatch. The media simply wants to paint a big picture of a landslide victory (the whole divided America, red state blue state crap is a little played out). It's not liberal bias (though one could argue it is a backlash against Bush who played the media big time leading up to Iraq - don't forget that the media didn't treat Carter too well when things were looking bad for the country). If the roles were reversed we would be talking about what went wrong in the Obama campaign (is it because he's black? Too liberal? Was it the Ayers/Wright stuff?). Election Day is seven days away and anything could happen, so don't play along with the media's assumptions. Peace.

Photos - McCain and Obama under a polling logo (ABC News), Obama and wife Michelle after the Senator conceded the New Hampshire primary (LA Times)

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