With the major media in full swoon mode -- every network anchor covering the Obama trip, and only one reporter following John McCain to New Hampshire Monday night, the polls should be moving strongly for Obama.
That was the expectation of savvy political analysts such as Nat Silver of the great fivethirtyeight.com web site: another Obama boomlet was in progress, and the results would soon show up in the polls. When the Gallup 3 day tracking poll showed a big surge for Obama on Monday (opening up a 6 point lead, after a very strong poll day on Sunday), Silver was certain the expected Obama surge was in fact occurring.
But Gallup was out of step with Rasmussen, whose 3 day tracking showed Obama at his lowest level since the primary season ended, in a virtual tied race (one point Oabma lead).
Today, the Gallup Obama boomlet is gone (lead down to 3) and Rasmussen is a tie.
Then throw in some decent state poll numbers for McCain: plus 10 in Ohio (Rasmussen), plus 11 in Georgia (Rasmussen) down 2 in Michigan (EPIC), down 3 in New Hamsphire (UNH) , and down 3 in Colorado (Rasmussen), and the race looks close and winnable for McCain (let's not get too excited, however -- we are still 15 weeks out).
Why did the Obama bump after Hilary Clinton dropped out fade over the past month? Why is Obama not getting a bump now from the media over exposure on his foreign tour (free advertising, in essence)?
The answer I think is that more and more Americans are realizing that a giant media sell job is underway, and many don't like it. Obama may be a rock star, but would he make a good President? Rasmussen has done a survey that reveals that 50% think the media are backing Obama, 14% think they are backing McCain. Half also believe the media have been too negative about both Iraq and the economy. Virtually every survey is showing that McCain does as well if not better in terms of favorable/unfavorable ratings compared to Obama, even in states where Obama has a small lead (e.g Colorado). In many of these states, 15-20% of voters do not immediately select a candidate, but when pushed as to how they lean, McCain is named far more often than Obama among the initally undecided.
My sense of the race is that Obama has a hard core support level that is much larger than McCain's hard core support level, but not nearly enough to win. And he has added very little to it the last month or two. Many voters are still weighing him, and he has not yet made the sale. McCain is an acceptable Republican for many independents and those Democrats not sure about Obama.
So the race will be about Obama, much more than about McCain. McCain has many fewer true believers, but broader general acceptability. If the less passionate McCain supporters show up to vote, he could well win, in a year where the Democrats have all the natural advantages. And the more the media appear to be over the top for Obama, the more it may help McCain.
And on this score, I don't think the media can help themselves.
Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.