Of course, with only two weeks to go, that may have given McCainsters some solace, but on November 4th, 5 points might as well be 99. Losing by less than you'd expected is still losing. The McCain camp has been saying their only way to win this was in a tight race, so these numbers probably seemed like good news.
But the bad news is that other polling isn't bearing these numbers out. In fact, two subsequent polls show Obama gaining, not McCain.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows the widening lead Barack Obama is building.
Overall, the poll found 52% of voters favor Sen. Obama versus 42% for Sen. McCain. That 10-point lead is up from a six-point Obama edge two weeks ago. The survey of registered voters, conducted from Friday to Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
It's the largest lead in the Journal/NBC poll thus far, and represents a steady climb for Sen. Obama since early September, when the political conventions concluded with the candidates in a statistical tie.
Doesn't look too much like the race is tightening up, does it? "Voters have reached a comfort level with Barack Obama," said pollster Peter D. Hart. McCain's "who is Barack Obama?" line comes way too late -- most of us aren't wondering that anymore. McCain has close to zero chance of attracting Democrats (Hillary holdouts are probably a statistically insignificant number), so Obama's 12-poijnt lead among independents is bad news. Worse, Obama wins McCain's demographic, with a 9-point lead among people over 65.
But that's not the really, really bad news. "[I]n the Midwest, home to a swath of battleground states, he is now favored by 25 points, up from a one-point advantage," WSJ tells us. McCain's getting his sorry butt kicked up and down this old heartland we've got here.
The other poll is a Pew poll that shows McCain down 52%-38%. Independents in this poll go Obama 51%-33%. Battleground states go Obama 52%-37%. Surprisingly, Pew gives Obama the lead in every income bracket, from 48%-46% for the $75+ demo to 64%-26% in the -$30k group. This would seem to show that Obama's perception as being stronger on economic issues holds true across income lines.
But, of course, a horserace post at this point in the game is coming close to the definition of pointless. For one, Obama's not very likely to screw up royally and blow it. I say that mostly because he just doesn't do that. Of all of the candidates and their running mates, Barack Obama seems to be the best at thinking on his feet.
And McCain's kitchen sink strategy is getting him nowhere. Nothing sticks. As I pointed out yesterday, McCain's supporters aren't helping any. There may still be some message that McCain could win on, but it's not the one he's using now. McCain's dirty campaigning has become a handicap for him and all his non-issues are seen as the distractions they are. No one cares about ACORN. Mostly because no one can explain what the actual problem is -- do they really expect us to believe that Mickey Mouse is going to cast a ballot? No one cares about Bill Ayers, since no one really knows who the hell he is. No one believes Barack Obama is a socialist -- in fact, that may be the stupidest, most tone-deaf attack of all, since most see Obama as being more able to save capitalism from depression. Or at least, to deal with a depression. It's like accusing Michael Phelps of being a slow swimmer. No one's going to buy that.
If I were advising McCain, I'd tell him, "Look, we've tried everything else. Time to talk issues." Don't expect to see that, though. Team McCain has already established they can't win on the issues. In fact, they can't win at all. Their only hope is that Barack Obama loses. And, yes, there is a difference. But the consensus among the geniuses running the McCain machine is that issues are the brakes on their forward motion.
Think Progress (emphasis theirs):
[T]he McCain campaign has issued a new strategy: just don’t talk about the economy and instead attack Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) character — as a top McCain aide explained to the New York Daily News:“It’s a dangerous road, but we have no choice,” a top McCain strategist told the Daily News. “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose.”
Shorter version, "...we're going to lose."
Just don't think that's such a forgone conclusion that you don't bother to vote.