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Maybe Pundits Need To Spend More, Not Less, Time Following The Polls


I see that John has already beaten me to this, but I continue to be amazed at how many people seem to believe that Barack Obama is crushing John McCain. Kevin Drum writes, "McCain is pretty obviously doomed this year." Howard Fineman writes, "You can’t make up how bad things are going for McCain."

But... Obama is up by two points right now, according to's polling average. Now, I agree that Obama has a better chance than McCain to increase his standing, but the fact is that right now he's barely ahead. I agree with Chris that, so far, the media's one-sided attention to (and scrutiny of) Obama has helped McCain more than it's hurt him. Of course, it's entirely possible that Obama's foreign trip will make his lead spike. If it doesn't, though, I expect the conventional wisdom about Obama's lead to change quickly, and quite possibly for panic to set in.

P.S. Fineman also writes, "[McCain] was just trying to be the good ol’ candid candidate a few months back when he said he didn’t know much about economic policy." This is a common, but wrong, interpretation. In the runup to, and during, the primaries, McCain was telling conservatives he didn't know anything about economics because he wanted to reassure them that his previous heterodoxical positions on economics sprang from ignorance, not principle. The message was, "I was an uninformed fool for saying the Bush tax cuts mostly benefit the rich, but now I'm listening to Phil Gramm and Jack Kemp, and I'll believe anything they tell me."

--Jonathan Chait