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Why McCain is doing so badly

October 1, 2008

His numbers started tanking before the bailout

The conventional wisdom has been that McCain’s response to the bailout has doomed his campaign. While I think that he made a very big judgement of error in the way that he has tried to take every conceivable side of this argument, the polling evidence is clear that since his numbers peaked on September 7th. From then on, there has been a consistent movement to Obama, which the various twists and turns in the bailout have done little to disrupt.

This is demonstrated in the above chart since Obama received his nomination bounce. It can be clearly seen that during the summer McCain began to gradually catch up with Obama, to the extent that he was on track for a 2-3% victory in the popular vote. Given that Obama neither received a bounce from his selection of Biden nor during the Democratic convention, McCain did not need to gamble and could have selected Tim Pawlentry or Lindsay Graham instead. Of course, he same argument could be used against the selection of Lieberman (although it would have been a worthwhile gamble), the evidence is that although Palin’s speech gave McCain a short term boost, her selection has created a trend against him.

This is not surprising. While I may have been a little harsh in my comparison of her to Incitatus, her responses to Gibson and Couric have not inspired any confidence in her abilities to lead. At the same time there is clear evidence that, not only is she even more right-wing than Obama is left-wing, but that her personal life is just as corrupt as those politicians she railed against. While some of the allegations that have been made against her are probably false, it is hard to dispute Buchanan when he claims that she was a ‘brigadier’ for him in 1996.

Ultimately, the fact is that, even if she manages to get through Thursday’s debates, she is not fit to be Vice-President, especially to a seventy-two year old cancer survivor – and believe that average voters are starting to move away from McCain/Palin in response. I still think McCain has about a 30-35% chance of victory, because I think that the markets are undervaluing his chances. However, part of me hopes Palin goes down in flames tomorrow – not least because the unique atmosphere created by the crisis means that McCain has at much chance winning without her as he does with her.

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