The Campaign Spot

Sure, This Is a Bit Of Gloom, But It’s Well-Connected Gloom

After the reappearance of “Obi Wan Kenobi” yesterday, I figured I would check in with my other oft-cited oddly-nicknamed source from the 2004 cycle, Middle Cheese. His title was spurred by his role as a connection between the big cheeses of the campaign and the… well, littler cheeses.

Middle Cheese is a Republican who has worked on two Presidential campaigns. He describes himself as very closely affiliated with the Bush-Cheney 04 campaign, but less so with the McCain campaign this cycle. But he’s maintained his web of contacts with Big Cheese GOP operatives.

“Generally speaking, I am on the gloomy side of Obi-Wan’s take. McCain/GOP numbers across the country collapsed last week,” he said yesterday afternoon. “This is either the bottom and will get a little better for the GOP over the next two weeks, or we are melting down 1974-style: Democrats could end up with 59 seats in the Senate, and GOP losses 19 seats in the House.  I can see the electoral college map this year as being like 2004 but Obama picks up Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado and Virginia, and McCain picks up no Kerry states.”

“Not all hope is lost, as evidenced by some recent polls which look a tad better for McCain. Also, the bailout bill mess is in his rear view mirror. McCain’s only chance is to convince voters that Obama is an inexperienced, out-of-the-mainstream — even radical – liberal. The new Ayers line of attack is fine, but it is only a short-term tactic with little long-term political benefit.  McCain has got to relentlessly hammer Obama for wanting to raise taxes in a recession, increase spending by $1 trillion dollars, and cutting funding for our troops.  But he also has to advance common-sense solutions to help the economy get back on track.

I had a few specific queries for what Middle Cheese was hearing:

Michigan: “An experienced political operative in Michigan I talked to doesn’t think McCain had any chance there. The economy is too bad there, and McCain/Palin took a big hit when the financial mess hit the fan two weeks ago. The campaign handled the announcement of the Michigan departure poorly, but my source had heard that their internal polls had McCain down by 15 percentage points.”

Economic Impact: “Fair or not, the public is blames Bush for the poor economy, which hurts McCain and all Republicans down the ballot. With the Dow now down almost 30 percent for the year, it’s getting hard for people to imagine that it can get worse under Obama and the Democrats (despite the fact that Obama’s capital gains and dividend tax increases will reduce equity values further and worsen the recession). McCain has got to convince voters that the economy will get much worse under Obama, because he will raise taxes.”

Turnout: Middle Cheese says, “My GOP operative friends out in the field say Obama has a big edge in turnout because of his financial resource advantage and the fact that he ran a 50 state primary campaign. The Democrats have been successful in registering new voters, and Obama has the resources to turn them out.  Palin has helped mobilize more GOP volunteers, but the Dems have had a huge head start.”

After the debate last night, Middle Cheese was pretty gloomy. But I would note that the latest batch of polls this morning offer a bit of support for the “we’ve already hit bottom” theory. Obama’s lead in Rasmussen was 8 percent, now it’s 6 percent; Obama’s lead in Zogby was 3 percent, now it’s 2 percent; Obama’s lead in the Hotline was 2 percent and now it’s 1 percent; in the Battleground poll Obama’s lead has shrunk from 7 percent to 4 percent.

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