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Monday, May 05, 2008

Obama's Now a Regular Candidate with Problems


If the bubble has not burst, it will likely do so on Tuesday.

The erosion of support for Barrack Obama is eating away at his polling numbers and his ultimate electability. His onetime clear, even double digit, lead over Hillary Clinton is gone in national polling. She now leads for the first time in three months.

His double digit lead in North Carolina is down to mid-single digits. His likely share of the white vote there will undoubtedly hit new lows, perhaps enough for an upset there. He quit gaining in Indiana and Clinton is pushing the lead back up.

His favorability ratings for the general election are also dipping and support among independents is waning. His illusionary support among Republicans is also a thing of the past. He will likely "mobilize the base" of the GOP better than any recent candidate from his party.

More and more people are focusing on the message and his positions, which can no longer by glossed over with "hope and change" generalities. He will likely have to run as a "liberal" in an electorate that self-identified by two to one as conservative (Gallup 2008).

More unfortunately, the Bradley effect may be emerging. I anticipate that a significant number of white voters will not tell pollsters that they are disillusioned with him, but the results will likely start showing up tomorrow. I think that there is an excellent chance of him doing 3-5 points worse than the latest polls would indicate. time will tell.....

This is before the Ayers flap has gotten legs and received the same media attention as Rev. Wright. We also would have to be naive to think that Rev. Wright will be silent for the balance of the campaign. My instincts saythat he will again emerge in some public speeches that will cause more damage.

Superdelegates also know this and have been withholding blanket bandwagon endorsements....but in the end, they will likely have no choice but to endorse him. The Democratic Party cannot be seen to have stolen the nomination from their first black candidate, no matter how flawed and weakened he has become.

Ads in Congressional races have already featured Obama as the target of a "nationalized" campaign. The Louisiana 6th District race went from double digit Democratic leads to 3 points in two weeks. Anyone in politics watching that knows poison when they see it.

Ironically the things that made Obama appear so appealing are the very traits that made the GOP Right reluctant to jump on the McCain bandwagon. His independence, non-partisanship, and willing to work across party lines. McCain has walked the walk, while Obama seems to have seized on the themes from focus groups and political strategists, having never demonstrated any of those qualities in his brief political career.

Weeks ago I started hitting on these themes and I am convinced that they are real issues. They reflect the judgment of the candidate who would be President. Who he listens to and who he relies upon for support. Obama has the problem of going from a Leftist Chicago constituency to a Center Right general electorate. A tough transition for a veteran politician and a near impossible task for a newbie, who has never ran in a tough campaign until now. This latter point demonstrated clearly by his "veneer answers" as we used to call them in collegiate debate: the first layer of a response that is not designed to be probed, a shallow "sound bite" in modern jargon. His Rev. Wright answers reflected this characteristic and then not get better with either age or depth. His "capital gains tax moment" in the last debate was another example. Far from benefiting from a long campaign, Obama wears thin from time and scrutiny. The days of being all things to all people are plainly over.

Randy Mott

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