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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Obama: Why Can't He Make the Sale?

Has the magic gone?

Readers will recall that throughout the Democrat's primary contest Obama failed repeatedly to vanquish Hillary Clinton's challenge to his primacy as "the one."

Time and again, small brush fires of voters in key states like Pennsylvania rebelled against the elitist, liberal message that Obama had packaged so perfectly for mass media consumption. Blocs of older women and union households who would typically support the Dem nominee seemed ambivalent, if not turned off by it all. You need only review the tape of Harriet Christian and her statement upon leaving the Dem Rules Committee meeting in May to recall how deep those sentiments are.

In the weeks after Obama secured the Democrat nomination he failed to meet his campaign's expectation that he would gain a wider lead over McCain. So, they took a gamble and went off on a world tour designed to make Obama look like Commander in Chief material.

And yet, after being photographed alongside world leaders as an equal and speaking at a mass rally in Berlin, Obama barely got a blip in the polls. That blip has now evaporated.

Rasmussen's daily tracking poll has the race tied at 44% apiece. The Real Clear Politics average is only slightly better news with Obama narrowing his lead over McCain to 3%.

In what by most accounts should be a strong year for Democrats Obama cannot seem to break out and take the lead. Compare that to Dukakis in 1988 and Kerry in 2004. Both had substantial leads at this point and both went on to lose the election.

What's Obama's Problem?

Earlier, I mentioned Obama's seeming inability to win over traditional Democrat voters who went overwhelmingly for Hillary. Dick Morris confirms that older women, like Harriet Christian, still are not supporting Obama with the fervor they would otherwise have for a Democrat nominee.

And Michael Barone reveals troubling signs that the enthusiasm younger voters used to propel Obama to earlier victories may be waning.

All those Obama flip flops designed to appeal to more traditional Democrat voters and Independents are increasingly being viewed by younger voters as too much of a sellout.

A case in point:

The XX Factor
Obama Sells Out on Offshore Drilling

by Melinda Henneberger
Slate.Com
August 02, 2008

Recent reports that Barack Obama is, in fact, a politician, and therefore fully capable of calculation, compromise and confessional performance art, neither alarmed nor crept up on me;
...
Now, though, he's taken flexibility too far, by selling out on offshore drilling.
...
And what's even worse than the shift itself -- yes, sometimes compromise is necessary -- is the ridiculous claim that it will bring gas prices down. It's never necessary to say something you know isn't true.
...
His excuse might be the worst part: "The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the interview. Which might give voters the impression that anyone who beats the drums loud enough and long enough will get this same "Alright already!'' response out of him. And it might give those young voters he is counting on the idea that he's not only not as different as they thought...but maybe, just not different enough.
Obama is walking a razor's edge. To appeal to more traditional voters on issues like oil drilling he risks losing the younger greenies. At the same time, refusing to acknowledge that the surge in Iraq was a good idea might appeal to the naive under 30 crowd but makes him look like a fool to older voters.

And we all know that when push comes to shove, younger people often don't bother to vote while the more mature voters almost always do.

I like how Jennifer Rubin summed it up:
Why isn’t it working? What’s wrong? You can imagine Hillary Clinton and her supporters banging their heads on their desks and emailing one another (”We told them!” “No one believed us!”) Time it appears has not been Obama’s friend. It has given more and more people time to think and discover that there may not be much behind the grand rhetoric. Others have figured out the degree to which Obama has concealed, evaded and fudged in setting out his political views. What does he believe? It’s unnerving to know so little and to realize he is perhaps the least forthright candidate in recent memory. And, of course, The Ego has just grown and grown so not even the MSM can ignore it. A smart Jonathan Chait has figured out that if the election is about Obama he loses. (Wow. From savior to drag on the Democratic brand in six months.)
George Will coined a phrase which captures it all: Obama fatigue. Perhaps voters are getting just a little tired of the grandiose speeches paired up with their inept counterparts when Obama is off the teleprompter.

We're closing in fast on the 90 day point before election day. Attention by the larger electorate to the campaign will certainly increase as moderates and independents finally begin to make up their minds. If Obama can't break ahead to a solid lead at some point, he will likely be defeated by McCain.

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