Obama Falls to Earth

Obama supporters are spinning his recent drop in the polls as a response to a few negative comments and ads. Whoddathoughtit? Two or three ads can puncture the Obama hot-air balloon and send the high-flying superstar hurtling back to earth with us ordinary folks.

Those spinning this tall tale usually have low opinions of the American public’s intelligence. Whenever their candidates have trouble, they blame the gullible American people. Evidently, they think that the public can be fooled easily - and inexpensively – by a few Republicans. I am flattered. According to their logic, the buckets of money Obama has thrown into the race, not to mention the Soros/moveon.org millions and media adulation are negated and reversed by a few McCain comments and a funny video comparing Barack Obama to Charlton Heston as Moses. Now THAT is an asymmetrical comment.

The reason Obama has been so evidently easy to deflate is because his campaign is based mostly on hope and hot-air. It has taken longer than anybody thought for someone to point out that the emperor has no clothes, but it is coming clearer.

Now we can have a real debate. The things Obama fans call negative campaigning is merely a reality check. They thought that their man could float above the fray all the way into the White House. It seemed to be working for them, but we cannot let that happen. Obama is just a man, after all, just a politician; he is nothing special. I am glad that Obama will have to compete as an ordinary candidate on his merits.

Obama has been skating on is lack of experience and parlayed that from a serious deficient to a positive benefit. It was a great trick. He was popular precisely because he was a good-looking outsider with little experience and so no record to judge, study or attack. Like Peter Sellers’ character in the classic “Being There”, Obama is blank screen onto which everyone can project his or her own story. But the longer the illusion lingers on the screen, the harder it becomes to sustain the pleasant fantasy. Obama may have peaked too soon. We are beginning to see the man behind the screen and he is not much to look at.

It is not negative campaigning to bring up legitimate flaws in your opponent. An accurate portrait contains light and shadow, as well as a lot of blank space. This allows people to judge. Perhaps Obama has a little too much blank space. Blank space need not be held against him, but it cannot work for him either.

The Obama campaign reminds me of a classical marketing case I studied in B-school. It explains why a particular dog food was unsuccessful despite a great beginning.

A major manufacturer wanted to get into the pet food business. They designed great packaging, with a superb ad campaign and made all the right moves to attract dog owners. It worked … at first. The product sold out and the factory geared for the big wave of demand. But it never came. Despite the fine packaging and marketing, the dogs couldn’t stomach the product and they were the ones that had to eat it.

As people get to know more about Obama, they find less to like. He says all the right things, but like the dog-food the great packaging doesn’t make up for the deficient product.

Posted by Jack at August 6, 2008 12:26 AM
Comments
Comment #257832
Obama supporters are spinning his recent drop in the polls as a response to a few negative comments and ads. Whoddathoughtit? Two or three ads can puncture the Obama hot-air balloon and send the high-flying superstar hurtling back to earth with us ordinary folks.

You mean mostly OLD FOLKS with land line telephones. Those are the only people who are being polled, while those who use cell phones instead ARE NOT being polled at all.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 6, 2008 12:47 AM
Comment #257837

VV

You can call into question the nature of polling. Polls generaly UNDERESTIMATE Republican strength, but maybe things have changed. BTW - not all polls are done by telephone. I am not sure the professionals doing all these polls are as stupid as you imply.

In any case, the key to using statistics is to look at changes. Whatever method they are using, last month Obama was doing better than this month. That is the direction. The method of gathering has not changed, only Obama’s ratings.

So maybe you discount the polls. But consider this. Polls were fairly accurate during the Obama-Hillary race. In fact, they tended to overestimate Obama.

Posted by: Jack at August 6, 2008 2:01 AM
Comment #257840

You wish, Jack. Nice try.

Posted by: womanmarine at August 6, 2008 2:43 AM
Comment #257846

Falls from grace? I wouldn’t call a small tracking poll to a tie a fall from grace. Wake me up when Obama’s polling in the thirties.

Care to comment on your candidate’s recent offer to enter his wife, the prospective first lady, in a topless/occasionally nude beauty contest at a biker festival?

I can practically predict the response: “Only John McCain, earthy rustic that he is, could pull such a joke off.”

Why is it that when McCain screws up or says something obnoxious, people like you are always there to make excuses for him? I guess you really don’t have a choice at this point.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2008 7:36 AM
Comment #257853

Jack

It is your party that has created the perception of messiah like qualities in Obama. The rest of us who support him have never believed such a notion. We all, including Obama have presented notions of nothing but harsh realities and even more harsh difficulties in repairing the vast damage done by eight yeas of republican rule.

The jealousies of your party have shown brightly and clearly on the political landscape from the get go. If I recall correctly I can remember recent instances in which you advised us not to put much stock in polls for various reasons. I guess maybe they only have merit when you can twist them to your advantage. I would suggest you take your own advice and not put much stock in those polls. This campaign is only warming up and once the true battle starts my money is on Obama blowing that old shallow, senile and technologically challenged flip flopping republican puppet out of the water.

I can’t blame you for joyously jumping on the polling bandwagon though. Everyone needs a bit of sunshine now and then. Sometimes one has to compromise ones standards to enjoy that sunshine.

Posted by: RickIL at August 6, 2008 10:14 AM
Comment #257871

It’s only the first week of August and already I’m sick to death of the negative tone of the Republican campaign. Jack, you have been obsessed with Obama for months and have written about him ten times as much as you have written about your own candidate. What conclusions are we to draw from that? Is there nothing good you have to say about McCain? If you were selling dog food (and I suspect that you are) your efforts would focus exclusively on disparaging your competitors rather than making your own product as good as it could be.

Come on Jack, raise the level and quit offering weak rationalizations like, “It is not negative campaigning to bring up legitimate flaws in your opponent.” No one believes that BS, least of all you. Negative is negative. Aren’t you the guy who used to chide the blue column for always focusing on the negative? Take your own advice and focus on the positive. Tell us what a great president McCain will be.

Posted by: RMD at August 6, 2008 11:24 AM
Comment #257874


Jack: Obama started falling from grace when he said I feel your pain. Never the less, if I were you, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Obama will probably win in a close one unless all those young people come out to vote.

If the polls are tight in October, early November, it will probably work in his favor because the Dims will probably have an easier time of getting out the vote.

Posted by: jlw at August 6, 2008 11:31 AM
Comment #257879

Jack,
Last night my son and I were sitting in the living room, and the tv happened to be on, with Anderson Cooper on CCN conducting a discussion about how Obama had fallen in the polls, and the race was really close. My son doesn’t really follow politics. He asked, “Is that true?” The next graphic showed the composite CNN poll:
Obama 48%
McCain 43%
Barr 5%
His next comment was unprintable. He asked why they were saying that on CNN, when it obviously was not true. I explained that the media play up the horse race aspect because it sells advertising. The truth is that polls have consistently showed Obama with a 3-4 percent margin, and McCain has never topped 45%.

So, make up whatever makes you feel better.

The polls do NOT include people who do not have landlines. About 14% of Americans have cell phones only, and among them (a largely younger demographic), Obama has a 3% lead, a lead NOT reflected in any major polls.

The Obama campaign is fundamentally a grass roots campaign, and they are betting the farm that they can turn out the younger demographic to vote. The McCain campaign is devoting their funding to advertising. They are betting the farm that a negative media campaign can scare Americans away from Obama by attacking and smearing.

This approach began when the floundering McCain campaign replaced the campaign head with Karl Rove’s protege. The McCain campaign began going heavily negative in mid-July.

Will it work?

You must be very proud of your Republican candidate. But pride in your party’s stand on issues. Not so much.

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2008 1:05 PM
Comment #257881

RickIL:

We all, including Obama have presented notions of nothing but harsh realities and even more harsh difficulties in repairing the vast damage done by eight yeas of republican rule.

Seems to me, as I recall, the Democrats have had two years to do something about all of this “damage” and what have they accomplished so far? Zip. Nada. And where has Senator Obama been during the four years he has allegedly served? What legislation has he sponsored or actively worked on during that time period, as opposed to latching on to the coattails of those who have actually done the work and then brazenly taken credit for it? Please tell what, if any, substantial contribution Obama has made in his current job that would lead anyone to believe that he would
bring to a new job that he has spent the past two years campaigning for at the cost to his constituents?

Now RMD will commence to wail and gnash his teeth at me “negative” questions, because, after all, Senator Obama is special and needs no experience as a leader or a senator to take on one of the most complex and difficult jobs in the world. All he really needs is Hope, Change, and Judgment. And let’s face it, folks, these slogans trump Experience, Knowledge, and Hard Work every time.

Finally, selling dog food is selling something with substance. Obama is much better suited to selling lottery tickets with vague promises of great returns, or perhaps selling helium in balloons door-to-door.

Posted by: Goombah at August 6, 2008 1:16 PM
Comment #257882

I think this might be an inflection point. Obama was above criticism for a long time. Now we see that it is possible to ridicle him and get away with it. It will be fun.

You all criticize polls, and I agree. But I only point out trends. Whatever system they used to figure out the numbers, it is the same system they used before. The polls have come down. That says something, especially since Obama has spent the big bucks and has the media on his side.

I think it is funny to watch the MSM try to explain why Obama has not broken out in the polls. They just cannot figure it out. I remember the same lack of understanding of Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan won more than 58% of the vote. Maybe Obama will do as well, but I really doubt it.

My personal estimate is that Obama will win. That doesn’t make me happy, but I think that is the way it will go. HOwever, I don’t think the deal is done. I would not be surprised if McCain wins. That is the only point I am really making here. Obama has clearly fallen to earth. It will be a close election.

Posted by: Jack at August 6, 2008 1:17 PM
Comment #257883

Good post Jack, and I especially appreciated your spot-on answer to VV about polling. If Obama polled well without cell phone owners included, one can conclude the same methodology would be accurate now that he is falling in the polls.

The “Iam more patriotic than you” puff-up should stop as it is an exercise in futility and ignorance. Let’s all agree that every American is patriotic and want what is best for them and our country. Liberals, conservatives, and independents are all patriotic.

How we approach government is contentious, and that’s a good thing.

While I will be voting for McCain, it certainly doesn’t mean that I agree with all he says and does. I and you had our chance in the primaries and caucuses to promote our favorite. The voters have spoken and we now have our finalists. My vote is based upon which candidate most closely adheres to my conservative values. And, that person is McCain. I would say that McCain is moderately conservative and that Obama is predominately liberal.

I believe the independent voter is more moderate than liberal and the majority of them will vote for MCcain; making him our next president. This election doesn’t have guns, marriage, affirmative action or religion as its main issues. Rather, energy policy, jobs, housing, Iraq and health care are dominate. McCains position on Energy and Iraq are definitely more appealing to independents than Obama’s position. The other three are toss-ups I believe.

Posted by: Jim M at August 6, 2008 1:18 PM
Comment #257885

Phx8, if Obama has a 3% lead among that demographic and its not reflected in polls, then where are you getting the number?

The canard about cell-phone only voters and polling has been around for ages now and is a perennial pipe dream of the fringe left.

Try googling it in regards to the 04 election, when so many of the Dailykos-type kooks were confident that there was an extra 5% of the vote lurking in their for John Kerry—but Kerry actually lost by a bigger than projected margin in most polls.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 6, 2008 1:21 PM
Comment #257892

A CNN article on its “poll of polls” shows 48 - 43 with 9% undecided. For some reason Barr is not included, nor is Nader.

LO,
There are all kinds of articles on cell phone users and polling. Here’s one:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080204-cell-phone-users-and-political-polling-not-much-deviation.html
Pew suggests it would only cause a 2% deviation towards Obama.

Another consideration is the likelihood of younger voters actually voting.

No one old enough to recall past elections will get too carried away with attaching too muchmeaning to polls. A lot will happen in the next three months, but despite all the caveats, it’s still fun to follow the polls…

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2008 2:19 PM
Comment #257904

Goom

Seems to me, as I recall, the Democrats have had two years to do something about all of this “damage” and what have they accomplished so far? Zip. Nada

Nine words tell the story. “Republican obstructionism” “George and his once extinct veto pen”

Posted by: RickIL at August 6, 2008 3:27 PM
Comment #257906

Phx8, what Pew actually says is that comparison studies between polls that include cell phone users and those who don’t, the different results—if any—hardly ever deviate more than 2%. They do NOT say that this deviation would favor Obama.

In fact, the tables they show have that in the Democratic primaries, Obama actually lost 1 percentage point of support in mixed landline/cell phone polls against Clinton. Something that seems counterintuitive if you accept that Obama’s youth support was thought to be greater than Clinton’s.

Considering that 2% is within most all polls’ margin of error anyway, there’s really no evidence whatsoever that cell-phone users are any lurking treasure trove of votes that aren’t showing up in anyone’s polls.

What HAS been demonstrated to be true, however, is the phenomenon of people overstating their support for black candidates in polls but not actually not voting for them on election day. This is the so-called Bradley Effect.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 6, 2008 3:39 PM
Comment #257907

Goombha

As an addition to my reply It should be noted that a portion of Obama’s senate time was served under a republican rule congress with a republican president who had lost his veto pen or ability to question any republican created legislation presented to him. The dems for all intent and purposes were while under republican rule effectively excluded from participating in the process of creating policy. They were ignored as though they were merely pawns with no right to challenge republican agenda. Yet in spite of all this the republicans were still unable to effect any significant degree of productive legislation. The result is that no one, not Obama, not even republicans were able to enjoy any real policy progress. The only people who fared well under Bush and republican rule are living way way above my means.

Posted by: RickIL at August 6, 2008 3:43 PM
Comment #257908

Goombah

“Please tell what, if any, substantial contribution (McCain) has made in his current job that would lead anyone to believe that he would
bring to a new job that he has spent the past two years campaigning for at the cost to his constituents?”

We have been listening for months about how unqualified Obama is, tell us about McCain’s “Experience, Knowledge, and Hard Work” and how it uniquely qualifies him to be president.

Posted by: RMD at August 6, 2008 3:45 PM
Comment #257915

Rick:

For two years of Obama’s term, the Democrats controlled the Senate and House. As for being “pawns,” the Democrats have traditionally fought among themselves, as well as under Pelosi and Reid, been entirely intractable and unwilling to compromise. Granted, the Republicans of late have little to write home to Mom about, but the Democratic-controlled Congress garners even lower poll numbers than Bush.

Also, I don’t recall the Democrats coming up with any significant plans to solve much of anything and they did manage to override one of Bush’s vetoes. The Democrats at this point are certainly just as guilty of ignoring the Republicans now as the GOP were of ignoring the Democrats when they were in control. There’s plenty of blame to go around as far as the do-nothing Congress is concerned.

Your response still sounds like an excuse rather than a testiment to Obama’s abilities as a U.S. senator. Let’s face it — being a senator is second banana to Obama’s real objective — being president. But this is telling in that it definitely shows his lack of attention to the business of doing the job he was elected to do and his performance is fair game in the upcoming election.

RMD:

How does McCain’s experience, knowledge and hard work qualify him to be president. Well, duh?!!! These are the general attributes that can be substantiated when evaluating someone’s fitness for higher office (or at least they have been in the more than 30 years that I have been voting). These form the basis of what most refer to as a “record,” which gives voters some idea of how a candidate might be assumed to perform during any given situation. These attributes are not unique nor do they always qualify someone to be president; but until this election, most people running from both parties tended to try to remind the public of their abilities and their experience and records, which, in turn, the public seemed to appreciate. Until this election.

So, RMD, let’s take a look at the facts. McCain has served in the military, has a unique perspective from being a prisoner of war, has run a business, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate (the later for about 20 years), and has compiled an impressive record of achievements, many of which transcended party lines (something Obama claims he will do but has no record of actually doing in the Senate).

Conversely, Obama has some experience as a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and four years as a rather ineffectual U.S. senator. He never served in the military. As far as knowledge is concerned, Obama likes to claim that he will bring good judgment to the presidency (like any candidate would claim not to!), but his record on this is rather spotted; i.e. 20-year membership in a radical black nationalist/racist church, affliation with convicted ’60s radicals who murdered a police officer, and lapses in consistency on issues when public sentiment sways the other way (in fairness, however, McCain also changed his position on off-shore drilling). Finally, hard work. What can one say? Running for president takes up a lot time. And it would seem that as far as Obama is concerned, the U.S. Senate is merely a stepping stone to the big enchilada. So doing a lot of work in the Senate, like McCain, only takes away from the time Obama could be spending giving speeches to adoring crowds and shaking a lot of hands while telling everyone everything they want to hear.

What’s the point of getting your hands dirty when you can walk on water?

Posted by: Goombah at August 6, 2008 4:38 PM
Comment #257922

Goombah,
McCain never “ran his own business.” After retiring from the navy, his wife’s family gave him a job as “Vice President of Public Relations.” For all intents and purposes, he has no experience with business, unless you consider the opportunity it gave him to get tight with Keating.

“Run a business.” Snort. He doesn’t even know how to send an e-mail. He doesn’t even know how to use a computer. No organization would hire a person so grossly illiterate in such basic business skills. Think about it. McCain does not know the first thing about Word, or Excel, never mind Access.

Maybe he can get someone else to do it for him. By why not cut to the chase, and hire the competent person who is doing it for him in the first place?

Posted by: phx8 at August 6, 2008 5:29 PM
Comment #257927

Marketing is always the key to a campaign. It’s not that the product isn’t any good, it’s more like when they keep the packaging the same size, but put less product inside of it. BHO is being helped by some of the same people who made Dukakis POTUS. Remember President Dukakis and his cute but alcoholic wife Kitty? They saved us from a possible Bush Presidency. We might have ended up in Panama, Iraq, and Somalia if Bush had been elected. Thank God that didn’t happen. The same guys will probably do the same for BHO.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 6, 2008 6:26 PM
Comment #257932

“No organization would hire a person so grossly illiterate in such basic business skills.”

Now phx8 - you know very well that the Neo-Cons don’t believe the presidency should have the same level of qualifications as a manager of a 7-11, much less a department supervisor at a Wal-Mart!

How dare you assume that the president should ever have to log on to check his e-mail?

Horrors!

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 6, 2008 8:52 PM
Comment #257935

Goombah-
Most Obstructive Senate Minority In United States History. That’s why the Democrats have achieved so little. In the first year, the Republicans managed to surpass any previous Senate that came before it in the number of times it invoked a filibuster to stall legislation.

As you were saying?

Obama is a strong candidate with charisma to spare, and the intelligence and political wit to do what Americans obviously want their president to do. Obama will cooperate with the vast majority of Americans, where many Democrats and Republicans wanted to continue indulging the Republican’s worn out “political realities”.

As for McCain’s experience? Experience is only valuable when it earns wisdom. McCain supposedly learned his lesson about corruption and bad appearances with the Keating five. But never fear, the Straight Talk express is here, especially to console people about jobs that it turns out they had a hand in taking away! Isn’t it nice of Rick Davis and Charlie Black to give up their jobs as active lobbyists to run McCain’s campaign?

I remember reading David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, and recall McCain’s introduction, where he tells of reading the book after his return to figure the war out. I find it unfortunate that he didn’t learn enough from that book to spot the parallels between Bush policy and Bush administration attitudes, and the disaster that similar policies of stonewalling the media, escalating to avoid defeat, and failing to take the strategic initiative inflicted on previous generations.

I find it unfortunate that he still supports laissez faire economics, after being caught up in a similar scandal involving loose regulations and corruption in the Bush years.

I find it unfortunate that being a torture victim himself, he caved in on measures restricting the use of torture, which he himself had said would not work.

What is this guy learning? Is he learning? If not, could we not say that he could have Strom Thurmonds level of experience and still fail?

If you want to go on repeating the same old overheated Republican talking points, where even the most casual and brief acquaintance is turned into blood brotherhood, go on, but it doesn’t impress me. All I see are Republicans who are fielding such a mediocre candidate, with so few resources and people helping you, that you have no choice but to destroy the powerful Democratic Party candidate. But somebody already tried that and failed. He’s not the standard issue wilting wallflower.

Jack-
Inflection points! Yes!
No. I know you’d like to think that he was some how innocent of such questions before your hero McCain came to poke holes in his persona, but he’s been through that wringer long ago. Maybe the Democratic primary seems long ago, but he was given similar treatment by the folks in the Clinton Campaign.

I think it’s because we’ve seen little enough of McCain. All we’ve seen is Obama and negative commercials about Obama.

The real question, is can you sell McCain to a public skeptical about most of his positions? When the time comes for that sales job, you’ll wish you got a longer headstart.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2008 9:41 PM
Comment #257939

The sad part is that I don’t like that Obama is a Democrat. I don’t like the performance of either party over the last few years.

I watch Obama to see if he can be in tune with the reality of the common folk. So far, he seems connected and even able to turn that into a inspiring, if somewhat ordinary, vision.

McCain clearly is not. He seems at times senile, often mean, and mostly well in the pocket of the rich folks he has aspired toward, most of his political life. Another power seeking surrogate for corporate America.

Sadly, as Jack and candidate McCain try to use the tired old elitist cliches of Republican victories of the past, they remind Americans of the complete disconnect of the Republican party.

After the complete betrayal of average Americans, the same old rhetoric just doesn’t work anymore. Even a black man can beat this schlock.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 6, 2008 10:05 PM
Comment #257945

Goombah

There’s plenty of blame to go around as far as the do-nothing Congress is concerned.

I can and will not claim a large degree of pride for our current dem congress. There have been times over the last few years when I felt they should have been more assertive. More assertive in attacking the underhanded and shallow ways of their republican counterparts. More assertive in attacking the failings and questionable practices of our POTUS. I think that like your republicans they put some principles aside in the interest of playing election year politics. Still none of this changes the fact that they have been held hostage by a republican congress and president with few scruples and even less integrity when it comes to genuinely dealing with issues that affect you and I.

As for Obama’s lack of years in senate service, well that really does not concern me. It is not his tenure that I am voting for. It is the principles and insights he advocates that appeal to me. He represents a needed change in course of direction. A direction away from the failed republican policies that have stagnated our government, diminished our world stature and greatly harmed our economy. I already know that what McCain has to offer does not work. It is not working now. Logic says that if an idea or principle has not and is not sound it is time to abandon that premise and look for what is sound. McCain does not offer that option. Obama presents an avenue to what is new and may very well be better than what we currently have. Of course there are no guarantees, but then if we stay with the same old policies we will never know, will we. It comes down to this. Accept conditions as they are under McCain, or stand up and fight for a new direction under Obama. Not being a quitter I really can’t see that I have any viable choice.

Posted by: RickIL at August 6, 2008 10:52 PM
Comment #257979

To Quote Kos on this one, Get your red hot metaphors!

The Straight Talk Express just had a wreck.

Now I’m waiting for the wheels to come off at some point.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2008 1:08 PM
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