Bob Herbert thinks Democrats should be a little anxious about November:
Not only do the polls show this to be a close race, but the polls, when it comes to Senator Obama, cannot be trusted. It is frequently the case that a statistically significant percentage of white voters will lie to pollsters — or decline to state their preference — in races in which one candidate is black and the other white.
After many years of watching black candidates run for public office, and paying especially close attention to this year’s Democratic primary race, I’ve developed my own (very arbitrary) rule of thumb regarding the polls in this election:
Take at least two to three points off of Senator Obama’s poll numbers, and assume a substantial edge for Senator McCain in the breakdown of the undecided vote.
Using that formula, Barack Obama is behind in the national election right now.
It seems like quite a few Democrats are very worried about Obama’s chances in the fall. I’m not particularly sanguine about the election, but neither am I convinced that John McCain actually stands a fighting chance. Like I’ve said before, at this point, national polls are almost meaningless. At best, they give us a rough idea of the national mood, and the mood is right where we should expect it to be: at parity. Equal numbers of Americans like John McCain and Barack Obama. Remember, the last two presidential elections were decided with very small margins, and even though George W. Bush is extremely unpopular, there’s no real indication that the underlying structural realities of contemporary politics (that we’re basically an evenly divided nation) have changed. Furthermore, campaign’s aren’t decided by national air wars, no, campaign’s are fought and won in the trenches. And on a state-by-state level, Obama is doing very well; the campaign is contesting every contestable state, and forcing McCain to fight for his support. In fact, a recent poll shows Obama with considerable leads in several key states: Nevada, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania, and within striking distance in Colorado.
The only reason why there’s the perception that McCain might win this election is because we’re the people who focus obsessively on the minutiae of campaigns. For the past few months, we’ve been following polls, reading blogs, and generally immersing ourselves in the election season. For a solid majority of Americans though, the election has just begun, and they are just now tuning in to what the candidates have to say. That’s the reason why the(much criticized) first half of the convention was dedicated to the normalcy of the Obama family; they were reintroducing themselves to an American public which was still a little unfamiliar with them.
Liberals really shouldn’t waste their time hand-wringing over the election; it’s terribly counterproductive and does absolutely nothing to help the Democratic Party win. In fact, at this point, we should approach the election with a fair amount of confidence; we have a party unified in purpose and mission, an inspiring and gifted politician as our nominee, a public ready for a change of course, and an opponent lacking in everything (money, volunteers, the whole shabangabang) but incompetence. We certainly shouldn’t be complacent, but neither should we drive ourselves insane with concern.
(photo from www.demconvention.com)
cross-posted at The United States of Jamerica