In less than a week, I will be in Denver at the Democratic National Convention participating in events that will take place outside the Pepsi Center. As I prepare to head to where the political epicenter of American politics will be next week, I have formulated a series of articles. The series is titled, "The Right, the Left, and Your Prized Candidate." The third in the series is as follows.
The base that coalesced behind Obama earlier in this election providing a burst of energy that ultimately boosted Obama’s campaign to the top has become extraordinarily limp lately. Whether this is indicative of the character of the progressive movement and its leaders or not, the moral fortitude to put forth an agenda that makes Obama more different than McCain is necessary.
Too many seek refuge by having conversations that amount to “Nobody But Obama” and “Elect McCain and Get Nuclear War” while Bush finishes out his imperial presidency and Obama and McCain evangelize their positions (or lack of) to the people through the television set.
This risk-free talk gets the people engaged in these discussions nowhere closer to achieving their goal---electing Obama---and is counter to electing Obama in November. Nothing of what said challenges the state of American politics at all, which is what must be challenged if we are to ignite a progressive movement.
Do we need progressives to reawaken (or for some awaken) and go to work before this election over?
Consider how close this election is.
Reuters reported recently, “an average of recent polls gave Obama a 4.2 percentage point lead over McCain, close to the statistical margin of error, according to the Real Clear Politics Web site.” And, “Obama's eight-point lead in June has all but evaporated, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, which said that 46 percent of voters now favored the Illinois senator over 43 percent for McCain.”
With high gas prices, a housing crisis, rising food prices, job losses, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and stark public disapproval of George W. Bush, there is no acceptable reason for this election to be close.
The same Reuters article highlights a prediction that this election should be a “blowout” done by political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University in Atlanta. He suggests this based on “a model used to track presidential election results back to World War Two that looks at political fundamentals such as second quarter economic growth during an election year.”
If it is supposed to be a “blowout” for Obama (and based on the 2006 midterm elections, it should be), than what is going wrong?
"I don't know where he stands. He may be good. He may not be. But it's hard to tell because he is not specific enough," said Bob Grover, an independent voter in Miami Beach, Florida.
All that elevating rhetoric involving hope and change is not paying off because voters like Mr. Grover have no idea what to make of Barack Obama. And, in such a time of insecurity, voters like Mr. Grover will go with a clear, concise (although hawkish) presidential candidate every time.
A recent poll by the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg suggests that “more voters believe that McCain has the experience to be president” and “more than a third have concerns about Obama's patriotism.”
The poll further highlights the state of affairs reporting that it found “Obama's favorability rating has dropped from 59 percent in June to 48 percent, and his negative rating has risen from 27 percent to 35 percent during the same period. McCain's favorability numbers have barely shifted, according to the poll.”
Gallup.com’s Jeff Jones offers an explanation for this close election that may be attributed to these results:
“…when an incumbent is not running, the election is arguably more forward-looking, and how the country is doing matters less than voters' projections as to how the two major candidates would do as president if elected. If so, then candidate-specific factors such as experience and policy positions (where candidates want the country to go) should matter more than voters' perceptions of how the country is doing or how the incumbent president or his party has performed (where the country has been).”