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The Race Is Getting Closer

Barack Obama’s national lead over John McCain is down to two points in Gallup’s “traditional” turnout poll, and this morning Rasmussen Reports has Obama’s lead dwindling to three points. The Rasmussen result is especially significant, I think. Rasmussen uses a more or less constant set of assumptions that could turn out to be wrong, but that provide a solid basis for following trends. In other words, Obama’s lead may or may not be three points, but I think we can rely on Rasmussen for the proposition that McCain is closing the gap.

The history of this campaign has been one of McCain climbing the hill, only to roll back down on account of events in the news, most critically the financial crisis. Whenever the news cycle is quiet, McCain moves toward parity.

The next foreseeable event that could blunt McCain’s progress is Obama’s half-hour infomercial this evening. It will be interesting to see how effective that appearance turns out to be. Obama thus far has run a cautious, “don’t fall out of the chariot” campaign, and it’s late in the day for him to break out of that mold. Perhaps he will try to address concerns that have arisen about his redistributionist philosophy and radical associations. In my view, he’d be better served not to do so. Denying that he is a socialist will have a Nixonian, “I am not a crook” air. Obama’s one real gift, apart from his fundraising prowess, is his ability to project an air of reasonableness and moderation no matter what he is saying. He will be better served if he relies on that skill rather taking on directly the accusations of radicalism that have started to get traction.

There is, of course, irony in Obama’s unprecedented infomercial. No Presidential candidate has ever had so vast a war chest as to be able to afford such an expenditure. We now know that Obama’s fundraising rests, at least in part, on the candidate’s decision to enable criminal fraud in the campaign’s fundraising. How much of his appearance tonight will be paid for by illegal donations that have been facilitated and encouraged by his campaign, we probably will never know.

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