A reader, noting that the current polling points to a solid Obama victory, suggests that there may be something of a silver lining to the depressing circumstances for McCain.
He urges a comparison to 1996, when Bill Clinton roared ahead in the polls early and kept his lead through the summer and fall. Around this time that year, Newsweek ran a cover story with the headline, “Is It Over?”
So the country is due to start thinking about Obama not as a theoretical possibility, but as a strong probability. And that means a certain number of voters will give him that “second look.”
Maybe for some voters, they’ll wonder if Obama, a guy who hasn’t yet completed four years in the U.S. Senate is the right guy to lead during an economic crisis. Maybe they’ll wonder just why such a seemingly likeable guy was hanging around with guys like Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and Tony Rezko. Maybe race will be a factor (though I tend to doubt it). Maybe they’ll wonder about the direction of government with a President Obama and large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
Twelve years ago, Clinton had near-inevitability on his side, too. In mid-October 1996, the CBS-New York Times poll had Clinton 53, Dole 36, Perot 5. The final pre-election Pew poll had Clinton 52, Dole 38, Perot 9.
The final numbers were Clinton 49.2, Dole 40.7, Perot 8.4. That “second look” was worth a couple of percentage points.