Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

New L.A. Times Poll Shows A Drop Of 10 Points In Obama’s Lead

The new L.A. Times poll that just came out at 5 p.m. shows a drastic drop in Obama’s national lead. This reflects the current overall trend of state polls tightening and a shrinking in the electoral vote lead for Senator Obama.

Overall, Obama holds a narrow edge over the Arizona senator, 45% to 43%, which falls within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. In June, Obama was ahead by 12 points. Other polls at that time showed him with a narrower lead.

More striking than the head-to-head matchup, however, is the drop in Obama’s favorable rating in the run-up to his selection of a running mate and the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver.

Obama’s favorable rating has sunk to 48% from 59% since the last Times/Bloomberg poll in June. At the same time, his negative rating has risen to 35% from 27%.

By comparison, McCain’s ratings have hardly budged during the same period: 46% of voters have a positive feeling about him; 38% give him negative ratings.

The attacks by McCain’s campaign worked. The celebrity ads worked. The drilling issue worked. The Georgia-Russia conflict certainly worked to McCain’s favor. Senator McCain worked tirelessly throughout the entire summer to define Senator Obama, while Senator Obama didn’t aggressively do the same, trusting in the “benevolence” of the American people to see past the negative attacks.

Tip 1#: Americans don’t vote on logic-based appeals. They vote emotionally. McCain’s ads appealed to them emotionally while Obama’s were cerebral, mostly about establishing his own image.

Tip 2#: If you don’t respond hard and fast enough with consistent themes that last beyond a day, you’ll look weak.

Tip 3# Stop treating McCain as a honorable veteran–now he’s a dishonorable politician.

Is it too late for Senator Obama to aggressively define Senator McCain? Perhaps.

August 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Quinnipiac has a new national poll out, that has Obama up by 5. There’s no question that Obama has gotten hurt from some of McCain’s attack.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be a lot more worried if anyone ever released a poll with McCain winning.

    Comment by smashartist | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  2. Smash, it’s a margin of error wider than the two points, so theoretically, McCain could have a lead.

    I’d add Tip #4 to Obama: Get a coherent surrogate strategy. When McCain launches an attack, I hear it from 20 different people throughout the news, staying on message. When Obama launches an attack, he says it once at a rally, then backs off assuming it will get reported enough. There is no repetition or discipline.

    Comment by dansac | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  3. A reader of Talking Points Memo, quoted by Josh Marshall, suggests that Obama should define McCain as “The Candidate Who Will Say Anything To Get Elected.” That, I think, could stick. Because it’s true.

    Comment by Brian | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  4. Slink: I’ve been reading your comments/diaries faithfully on Daily Kos and just discovered that you have your own Blog! Your insightful analysis of the current election and your overall grasp of American politics seems to be exactly “dead-on.”

    I too have been trying to “warn” others (via diaries and comments on blogs) about much of the same alarming trends and patterns that are happening to the Democrats. Almost always, I am called Chicken Little, a Troll, a Republican Mole and numerous other names in response. Having been an Obama supporter since the Senator first announced his candidacy for President in Chicago (where I was present), I sincerely hope that there are others out there who will be able to convince Plouffe, Axelrod and other members of the Obama Team that they need IMMEDIATELEY to start changing their campaign strategy instead of listening to those who call folks like us Chicken Little!

    I had just read (on the TPM Blog) about the LA Times Poll showing Obama’s ten-point drop in lead over McCain when I subsequently saw that a diary had been posted on this same subject on Daily Kos.

    For your information, I have reproduced below the comment I wrote to YOU on this very Daily Kos Diary. Before printing it here, though, I want to say that I hope that “important” people out there are reading and taking YOUR remarks, suggestions and analysis seriously–before it is too late!


    SUBJECT: When will Folks Stop Calling us Chicken Littles?

    I wonder when Reality will FINALLY begin to settle into the minds of all of those who keep calling folks like you and me Chicken Little? I do not understand how these Chicken-Little-Callers–despite all of their so-called “snark”–do not realize that this is the nation that CHOSE to re-elect George Bush!! Furthermore, do these same folks not remember that Kerry COULD have responded quickly to all of his negative attacks by Rove and the swift-boat ads; instead the Kerry campaign CHOSE to play the so-called “high road” until it was too late to reverse the damage. History does have a habit of repeating itself–and to deny this shows more anxiety issues than being aware of it!

    Of course, I do not think it is too late for the Obama Campaign to start fighting back and reverse all of the damage. But it is extremely frustrating to know that thousands and thousands of us folks have donated an awful lot of money (that many people can’t even afford) to help Senator Obama get elected. Why can’t they spend that money effectively like the McCain/Rove Camp is apparently doing?

    And yes, I think that picking a great “attack-dog” for VP will help. But why are we relying on this VP to do what the campaign itself should have been doing? To me, it seems like an absurd amount of expectation. Indeed, as someone on The Daily Kos already has said, there better be one heck-of-a-ground game out there for the Dem Presidential GOTV efforts in November!

    Comment by Midwesterners | August 19, 2008 | Reply

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