This USA/Today Gallup, which reflects the three day polling period after the convention, has McCain up 50-46 among registered voters and by 54-44 among likely voters. I think this is pretty significant, not just because it shows an 11-point swing as a result of the Republican convention.
What’s also important is that McCain hit the 50 percent mark. The basic trend we’ve seen during this general election has been that both candidates are tied around the mid-40s, then Obama has a good run, McCain dips to the lower 40s, Obama creeps up, and opens a 4 to 8 point lead. Then McCain knocks Obama around a bit, and they ended up tied in the mid-40s again. I’ve been wondering the whole time whether McCain would finally hit the 50 percent mark, because it seemed that there was a group of voters that was fluctuating between Obama and undecided, while showing resistance to McCain. Now McCain has broken this cycle.
A few other important notes. On the economy, “Before the GOP convention, Obama was favored by 19 points; now he’s favored by 3.” It’s pretty simple. McCain has an advantage on national security that is pretty stable, so if Obama cannot capitalize off of working class economic anxiety and win those voters that eluded him during the Democratic primaries, he cannot win the election. Obama should be blowing McCain out of the water on the economy, but it seems that the constant hammering during the convention on his plans to raise taxes was effective.
Also, here’s the most important aspect of the Palin effect: “Before the convention, Republicans by 47%-39% were less enthusiastic than usual about voting. Now, they are more enthusiastic by 60%-24%, a sweeping change that narrows a key Democratic advantage. Democrats report being more enthusiastic by 67%-19%.” This was the biggest GOP worry all year — what to do about the enthusiasm gap? Would voters turn out for McCain? Would they stuff envelopes, make calls, and knock on doors? It now appears that they’re much more likely to, and in a close race that will be a turnout battle, the importance of this development cannot be overstated.
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