Tom Edsall says my irresponsible anti-bailout jockeying could crash the economy. Can I have dibs on the Ruffini
More voters trust Obama to deal with the economy, and he currently has a big edge as the candidate who is more in tune with the economic problems Americans now face. He also has a double-digit advantage on handling the current problems on Wall Street, and as a result, there has been a rise in his overall support. The poll found that, among likely voters, Obama now leads McCain by 52 percent to 43 percent. Two weeks ago, in the days immediately following the Republican National Convention, the race was essentially even, with McCain at 49 percent and Obama at 47 percent.
People are going to have to bring themselves to admit that the political economy of this matters. There is an election in 41 days. And that the outcome of that election may count for as much or more as the outcome of the bailout.
From where we stand today, the race is categorically different than it was two weeks ago. This is not a waning of the Republican convention bounce. It was a sudden shift to Obama that unfolded over a few days egged on by the financial crisis. The RCP average shows it. Perhaps the most precise pinpointing of it is the R2000 overnights, which had McCain up 1 on Friday, September 12th, Obama +3 on Saturday and Sunday, +4 on Monday, +5 Tuesday, and +8 Wednesday. The Lehman Brothers / Merrill collapse happened that weekend. AIG happened on Tuesday.
The GOP's best hope of jamming up Obama's messaging on change was not necessarily to stop the bailout, but to seem like the side most hostile to it and to the status quo largely shaped by an an out of control Fannie and Freddie. Driving the fact that Fannie and Freddie were Democratic patronage mills was crucial from day one (instead we got the Chris Cox distraction, which had nothing to do with anything). Also throwing the President's "ownership society" under the bus -- in which a lot of bad loans were encouraged in the name of showing good minority and low-income homeownership numbers. McCain and the GOP needed to use this to achieve clear separation from Bush and the corrupt Dodd/Rangel Congress, even if it was mostly symbolic on the question of the bailout itself.
Instead what happens? It's Barack Obama who gets to play politics with this while doing nothing to stop the bailout, huffing and puffing about "no blank check" and socializing Wall Street. This is posturing, pure and simple. But it is effective posturing. And no one is accusing Obama, Reid, and Dodd of submaring the bailout despite tacking on their list of demands.
There will be 2 or 3 more chances to turn around this election. One will be the debate period starting Friday night. The second will be the post-debate sprint. And the third will be the final weekend, where we'll be on October Surprise alert. But there is no doubt we enter this period at a slight disadvantage, because we failed in the last 10 days to fight this to a draw.