The latest national polls show Barack Obama and John McCain in a dead heat after two weeks of non stop negative attacks from McCain. The msm has done a very good job of spreading the McCain message by endlessly replaying them every night. The strategy being employed by the McCain camp is right out of the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove playbook. Turn your opponents perceived strength into a negative. This was how the Republicans managed to turn John Kerry's military service against him. It seemed amazing that the American public would somehow question the service of someone who actually volunteered for war and was injured (twice!) when his opponent used his father's influence to avoid serving in the same foreign war, but somehow it worked. Kerry's bravery was questioned, his injuries were questioned, his patriotism was questioned and a majority of the American people bought it hook, line and sinker.
Obama's greatest perceived strength is his popularity at home and abroad. By accusing him of demagoguery, the McCain campaign is hoping to divert the attention of the American people from the actual issues and make this a referendum on Obama himself. According to the McCain campaign, Obama has the audacity to be popular overseas (because why would we want the rest of the world to actually like our leaders), the arrogance to think that he actually might become President (he is one of two people still left in the running for the job), and is suffering under the delusion that he can actually relate to the common man (clearly no one who was raised by a single mother who actually had to rely on food stamps at one point could hope to understand what the blue collar workers are feeling).
The polls show that this tactic is working. It's almost amusing when the msm makes a statement about Independents being turned off by negative advertising. I would like to see the studies that show that. This is clearly a statement based on anecdotal evidence and the misplaced hope that negative advertising has a detrimental effect on the candidate that runs them. Time and time again, campaigns have turned to this tactic for one simple reason, it works. It worked against Dukakis, it worked against Kerry, it worked against Gore (remember the lie that was perpetuated that he said that he invented the Internet. I'd bet that a majority of the people in this country still believe that he said that.)
Is there anything that the Obama campaign can do to counter this tactic? Truthfully the answer is not much. Obama could respond with attack ads of his own, but he probably won't. Once an opponent starts attacking, you are put on the defensive. Your campaign is forced to answer the charges and you have less time to get your own message across. Obama continues to hold meetings and give speeches about the economy, but the msm is in a tizzy over the fact that the McCain campaign ad that compared Obama to Britney and Paris. Even David Letterman carried the McCain message to the people last week with the top 10 reasons that show Obama is arrogant. As the "Obama is a Muslim" lie that has been refuted a million times but refuses to die shows, once you unleash a story to the public, a percentage of them will believe it regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Now a big reason for that is because people want to believe. There are people who want to believe that Obama is a Muslim extremist, there are people who want to believe that he's arrogant, there are people that want to believe that he's out of touch, there are people who want to believe that he's only gotten as far as he has because of his race. There are a lot of people who are just looking for a reason not to vote for him.
The enthusiasm for McCain among the core Republican constituency has never been very high. He almost certainly get a boost after the convention, but his ability to win this election is based almost solely on his ability to demonize his opponent. The Republican brand has been badly damaged by this administration and the Congress is where that will be felt the most. Democrats are poised to gain seats in both houses of Congress in the November election. The big question is still whether those gains will include the White House. As I have stated here before, I don't think that Obama can win in November. I can guarantee that he will make McCain look silly in the debates, but it won't really matter. Most people will come into those debates with their minds made up and they will see what they want to see. John McCain came into this campaign season saying that he would run an honorable campaign. That clearly wasn't working, so although it took some time for them to get to it, the McCain campaign has finally hit upon the winning theme; "My friends, I am not Barack Obama".