It is incredible, but the designation of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate seems to have totally obliterated Obama’s bounce from his convention and after his magnificent speech. Zogby actually has McCain two ahead and Rasmussen’s Friday-only data shows Obama only three up! This confirms what we have suspected – that the linkage of McCain and Bush was the weak link in Obama’s convention. By showing how different he is and by taking the step of choosing an independent, outspoken, gutsy, reformist candidate like Palin as vice president, McCain has shown how much he is the un-Bush. Bush chose Cheney. McCain chose Palin. That, apparently, says it all.
Palin, whom I know personally, is articulate and very bright. She has courage and defied the entire corrupt Republican establishment in Alaska, causing the resignation of the state party chairman and the attorney general and the defeat, in a Republican primary, of the governor (whose daughter is a senator). She is very impressive up close and has a freshness and newness in her perspective that reminds one of a cold, bracing, clear Alaskan wind!
I had expected that Obama’s bounce would be nullified after an entire week of the Republican convention. But now it’s happened in one day! In fact, we will never know how big Obama’s bounce was since his speech was late on Thursday and Palin was appointed during the day on Friday, so no evening polling was possible in between. My guess is that had there been a poll on Friday and Palin not chosen until Saturday, it would have recorded a 10-to-15-point Obama bounce. But that is gone with the wind!
This gigantic shift in voter support puts the postponement of the opening days of the Republican convention into a new perspective. If the hurricane turns out to be manageable and New Orleans does not, in Obama’s words, “drown,” it will be as effective for McCain as a good first day or two of a convention. How dramatic that the very location where Bush’s reputation fell apart could be the place for a Republican comeback. Granted, Gustav is a smaller storm than Katrina, but the reinforced levees and more comprehensive evacuation plans highlight the difference three years and a lot of lessons learned have made.