Steve Benen over at Crooks and Liars has painted a bit of a silver lining over the depressing news that McCain and Obama are tied in popularity.
I can almost persuade myself that, given the current landscape, McCain should be cruising to huge leads over Obama and Clinton right now.
No one’s laid a glove on McCain in months. He started off with high name recognition and strong favorable numbers, then won the Republican nomination fairly easily over a month ago. All the while, McCain’s enjoyed a startling, often embarrassing, advantage with the political media establishment, which has been practically sycophantic towards him.
Clinton and Obama have been engaged in a contentious primary fight, in which they’ve not only hammered away at each other’s negatives, but have also been focusing far more of their energies on each other than McCain. There’s one independent attack ad running against McCain (Progressive Media USA’s spot), but it just started, and its initial ad buy was modest.
I’d be happy to believe that McCain’s bare tie with Obama means he’s doomed, that as soon as Obama’s troops defeat Hillary and absorb some of her followers, McCain will have nowhere to go but down, buried by his own irrational positions on Iraq, his identification with the failed Bush regime, his age, and his sketchy personal life. Benen’s article highlights several reasons why McCain’s renewed popularity might only be due to his early pick for Republican nominee at a time when no Democrats have the time to fight him. But I worry that the same folks who deluded themselves into voting for Bush the last time might be persuaded to vote for “Maverick McCain” if he and the media are using this time to paint a rosy picture of him.