The first batch of post-RNC polls are out, and they contain good news for John McCain.. In the Gallup Tracking poll, McCain is up 3% against Obama. In the Rassmussen Tracking poll, McCain is tied 48% to 48%.
These polls show that McCain did get a bounce from the RNC, and that this race is very fluid. It would not be surprising if these numbers get better for McCain by mid-week as weekend polls sometimes undercount Republicans.
I am going to go off on a limb and predict that Obama will underperform his polling numbers—just as he did in New Hampshire in January. I believe that there is a strong “bandwagon” effect among Obama voters and that McCain will actually peel away some of the Hillary voters that have “come home” to the Democrats after the DNC.
Watch the swing state vote—states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan will decide this election. Obama needs some of the key Western states to win. McCain must take Ohio and Florida to win. Obama has to hold all of Kerry’s states and peel off enough electoral votes for the red states to win.
If Pennsylvania goes to McCain, Obama is toast. He is unlikely to pull enough additional electoral votes to make up for that loss. If I were McCain, I’d be having Sarah Palin circling the Great Lakes states while McCain pulls Colorado, Nevada, and possibly New Mexico from Obama.
This race is completely up in the air. McCain has taken some of the wind out of Obama’s sails. He has an opportunity to run as an “agent of change” and beat the prevailing political climate. Obama is now on the defensive, and could lose. The debates will be critical, and the next two months will be some of the most exciting in American politics yet.
UPDATE: The latest Gallup/USA Today tracking poll has even better news for McCain: a lead of 10% in a survey of likely voters. That poll is likely an outlier, but there’s little doubt that McCain has gotten a bounce from his convention, and that Obama’s lead has evaporated.
UPDATE: Today (Sept. 8), McCain has a 3.2% lead in the RealClearPolitics average. All the major polls show the race either tied, or with McCain in the lead. There’s no doubt that McCain got a bounce from the convention, and that it was a substantial one. The question will be whether he can make the best of that momentum into Election Day.