31 July 2008

McCain the Underdog

John McCain, the veteran lawmaker, 2-time presidential hopeful, and long-time Washington deal maker, pleads underdog status in his race against the junior senator from Illinois.

At a Cherry Hills fundraiser this week, McCain said "We're the underdog in this race . . . But I am pleasantly surprised that we are only behind a few points in most polls. There's even one crazy poll where we're ahead by a few points."

I think that's a smart move. Play the expectations low, and every close poll suggests less about Americans' faith in McCain, which is not essential (as evidenced by GOP success in recent presidential elections) but mistrust and discomfort with Obama. McCain doesn't have to wow the voters to win this thing. He just has to stay steady, and make out that Obama is an underperformer. After all the hype about hope and a new kind of politics, Obama really has to deliver--at least on the perceptions front--in order to tie up the contest.