NEW YORK -- A new survey of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and CBS found that the McCain campaign’s recent negativity and personal attacks on
NEW YORK — A new survey of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and CBS found that the McCain campaign’s recent negativity and personal attacks on Sen. Barack Obama may have done more damage to Sen. John McCain than the intended target.
From The New York Times:
After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking…
Voters who said their opinions of Mr. Obama had changed recently were twice as likely to say they had grown more favorable as to say they had worsened. And voters who said that their views of Mr. McCain had changed were three times more likely to say that they had worsened than to say they had improved.
The top reasons cited by those who said they thought less of Mr. McCain were his recent attacks and his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. (The vast majority said their opinions of Mr. Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, had remained unchanged in recent weeks.) But in recent days, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have scaled back their attacks on Mr. Obama, although Mr. McCain suggested he might aggressively take on Mr. Obama in Wednesday’s debate.
The poll also found Obama leading McCain nationally by a comfortable 14-percentage point margin, 53 percent to 39 percent. The lead closed to 12-percentage points when third-party candidates were factored in, according to The Times. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Perhaps most shocking was this item, from CBS’ report on the poll:
Among independents who are likely voters – a group that has swung back and forth between McCain and Obama over the course of the campaign – the Democratic ticket now leads by 18 points. McCain led among independents last week.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported that a McCain campaign official dismissed the poll, saying it “‘falls outside the range’ of where the race is now.”
Perhaps it does, but it must also be raising the eyebrows of the Republican critics of McCain’s campaign management — like conservative columnist Bill Kristol and McCain’s own brother — if not the managers.
On one hand, the McCain campaign can hardly be blamed for choosing to go negative — it’s how underdogs have often turned around elections for generations. But negativity can have the opposite effect of turning off swing voters — who both campaigns are wooing right now.
This year, the presidential nominees had promised a different type of race: honorable and focused on the issues.
When McCain abandoned that pledge out of political expedience, this poll indicates that he may be paying a far higher price than previous candidates.
It also shows he may face a Catch-22 during tonight’s final presidential debate. His conservative base, whose support McCain really doesn’t have to worry about, would like him talk about William Ayers, the Chicago education leader and former member of the Weatherman Underground — though McCain would likely have to go out of his way to broach the subject, which could look desperate. But if he does, he runs the risk of further alienating the moderates whose votes will decide the election.
This debate may be McCain’s final opportunity to shake up this race. One has to wonder if the McCain campaign is re-formulating its debate strategy right now.
MA-Sen: A Text Message From Scott Brown
BOSTON -- Having signed up for Scott Brown’s text message service for election day, I just got this text: Are you about to have lunch? It’s a great time to
MA-Sen: 150 Conservative Bloggers Fan Out, Looking for Scandals
BOSTON -- The mysterious Election Journal blog, which first released the infamous 2008 video of two bumbling New Black Panther Party members waving nightsticks
MA-Sen: Brown Wins
BOSTON -- At 9:20, the first rumors of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race started to work around the room. A moment later, Doug Flutie
MA-Sen: 66 to 19
BOSTON -- That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary
MA-Sen: Out-of-Staters for Brown
BOSTON -- A surprising discovery at yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester was just how many people had traveled into the state to assist, in whatever way,
MA-Sen: Loyal Democrats Grouse About Coakley
BOSTON -- A little while after noon, a steady crowd of Democratic voters streamed into the Cathedral High School Gymnasium to cast votes for their party’s
MA-Sen: Republicans Celebrate Coakley’s Gaffes in Worcester
WORCESTER, Mass. - By the way, said Curt Schilling. One more thing. I am not a Yankees fan. The overflowing crowd at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall on
Menendez, Lautenberg to Continue BP-Lockerbie Investigation
Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, will continue to seek details about BP’s alleged involvement in the release last year of
Net Investors Bullish on Palin’s Prospects for Staying on Ticket
Just for fun, the Internet prediction Website Intrade has opened a contract on whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as McCain’s running mate.
No Experience Necessary
Gov. Sarah Palin’s a middle-class hockey mom, but does that really qualify her to be vice president?