The bounce is over

Lots of Democrats were freaking over the last week, and I admit that I've been clicking on Five-Thirty-Eight with some trepidation myself lately, looking at the win probability favoring McCain and resisting the urge to click over to the New Zealand immigration website. But I had a gut feeling that, as the shine came off Sarah Palin, and as it became clear that McCain can't pull in a crowd without her, and especially once McCain said, as the Dow was plunging 500 points, that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, that the poll numbers would turn around. They started a couple of days ago with Research 2000's poll--but that's the one Kos commissions, and you want to be careful about that sort of thing--and then yesterday, the daily trackers were basically even, McCain ahead in some, Obama in others. The momentum is turning. Here's the latest example.

Despite an intense effort to distance himself from the way his party has done business in Washington, Senator John McCain is seen by voters as far less likely to bring change to Washington than Senator Barack Obama. He is widely viewed as a “typical Republican” who would continue or expand President Bush’s policies, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Polls taken after the Republican convention suggested that Mr. McCain had enjoyed a surge of support — particularly among white women after his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate — but the latest poll indicates “the Palin effect” was, at least so far, a limited burst of interest. The contest appeared to be roughly where it was before the two conventions and before the vice-presidential selections: Mr. Obama had the support of 48 percent of registered voters, compared with 43 percent for Mr. McCain, a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error, and statistically unchanged from the tally in the last New York Times/CBS News Poll in mid-August.
The five point lead is good news, but better news is that people aren't buying McCain as a change agent, and with the economy looking ever more problematic, that means McCain is in trouble.

There's other good news--Palin has only helped McCain with the conservative base. There's been no rush of independent women to McCain's side, which means we may have heard the last roar of the PUMA for a while. Obama is tied with McCain among white women--by comparison, John Kerry lost white women to George Bush 37 to 56.

And this I found particularly interesting:
And 75 percent said they thought Mr. McCain had picked Ms. Palin more to help him win the election, rather than because he thought that she was well-qualified to be president; by contrast, 31 percent said they thought that Mr. Obama picked Mr. Biden more to help him win the election, while 57 percent said it was because he thought Mr. Biden was well-qualified for the job.
I find it fascinating because I didn't expect so many people to be so cynical about McCain's pick. I figured that for a question that would fall along party lines, frankly. Voters are generally a lot more cynical about the opposite-party candidate than they are about their own.

McCain is also losing that mavericky sheen he's gotten so accustomed to:
The poll found that 46 percent of voters thought Mr. McCain would continue Mr. Bush’s policies, while 22 percent said he would be more conservative than Mr. Bush. (About one quarter said a McCain presidency would be less conservative than Mr. Bush’s.) At a time when Mr. McCain has tried to appeal to independent voters by separating himself from his party, notably with his convention speech, 57 percent of all voters said they viewed him as a typical Republican, compared with 40 percent who said he was a different kind of Republican.
That's really good news, because the more McCain is seen for what he really is--a dyed-in-the-wool conservative--the more trouble he'll have getting independents to vote for more of the same. It's also a sign that Obama's message is resonating on some level.

One last bit, because this has gone on long enough, I think:
More than twice as many said an Obama presidency would improve the image of the United States around the world, 55 percent, compared with those who believed a McCain presidency would do so. Mr. Obama also gets high marks for “sharing the values most Americans try to live by,” despite concerted Republican efforts to portray him as elite and out-of-touch with average voters. Sixty-six percent said Mr. Obama shared their values, compared with 61 percent who said that about Mr. McCain.
Yup. The elitist tag isn't sticking. Of course, it's hard to make it stick when you've got people like Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild doing the pasting.

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