01 October 2008

Obama Hits 50% in Battleground; GOP Wants Mud

Although Senator Obama is currently ahead in all of the national polls, his average falls a bit nationally (RCP has him at 4.8 today; yesterday he was at 5.1). The big news is that he’s cracked 50% in three of the battlegrounds: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. From Quinnipiac's survey, which compared pre- and post-debate voter responses:

Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.

As a result of Obama’s gains in swing states, and, no doubt, feeling pressured by early voting, Republicans are encouraging the McCain campaign towards full-on negativity: from Politico’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin:

GOP officials also believe that a sustained attack on Obama’s ties to his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, scandal-stained businessman Tony Rezko and former radical war protester William Ayers could sway undecided voters.

Among those goading McCain to be more aggressive is Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Robin Smith, who said that “people need to see a gladiator who’s willing to defend what exactly he stands for.”

“We’re not talking, for instance, about the radical associations that Barack Obama has, with Mr. Ayers, Tony Rezko and so on,” Smith said. “More could be done.”

Murray Clark, the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, said he is eager for Obama’s “troubling relationships” to be aired in his state. “I think those things will come up in Indiana again and they do have an impact on mainstream voters in Indiana. You call it going negative, [but] whoever ... is in a position to point out these relationships, I think it’s helpful.”

They needn’t worry too much. It looks like some 527s are only to happy to help Senator McCain in this respect: a Conservative group has just begun running ads in Ohio and Michigan “reminding voters [. . .] about Obama's ties to Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright” (Martin).

Such tactics, however, could easily backfire: voters are on edge right now, and they’re distrustful: Senator McCain’s continuing decline in the polls suggests that many, if not most, voters saw Senator McCain’s abrupt decision to suspend his campaign and to intervene in the financial crisis as a political stunt, and they’re likely to see any descent into negativity as a panic move from a flailing candidate (whether he’s actually flailing or not).

Moreover, should Senator McCain win the general election after engaging in last minute mud-flinging, he most certainly will be facing a Democratic majority in the Senate and House--and that majority might find it difficult to listen to his appeals to bipartisanship.

No comments: