Thursday, August 21, 2008



While it's true that polls don't matter a whole lot in the late days of summer, perhaps Barack Obama should be concerned about what's happened to him in the dog days of August. By all measures, he is in a statistically weaker position nationally than he was at the beginning of the month.

It's not the raw numbers that Obama should consider most disturbing. Instead, the fact that John Zogby finds voters believe McCain is better able to handle the economy -- hardly his strongest issue! -- must drive Democrats nuts. But, this is more a reflection of what the McCain campaign has (temporarily?) successfully accomplished: The Republicans have managed to alter the definition of Barack Obama in the public's mind. Instead of a guy offering positive vision of hope and change, Obama has been changed into -- a "celebrity" offering nostrums of "hope" and "change", but with no actual leadership ability to accomplish that. Oh, and he's a tax-and-spend liberal who won't keep the country safe either.

The rule in politics usually is -- the candidate who defines himself and his opponent the best tends to go on to victory. Obama is going into what should be his best week of the year, so he has time -- and money -- to change the definitions. But, given voters perceptions of George W. Bush and the broader Republican brand, being essentially tied with McCain at this point has to be considered a major setback for Obama and the Democrats.

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