- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gift to Obama

“The chaos on Wall Street that exploded over the weekend — and caused [the] Dow to drop by more than 500 points on Monday alone — is, obviously, bad news for just about everyone. But strictly in terms of the looming election, now fewer than 50 days away, the timing may be something of a gift to Barack Obama and the Democrats, who have watched in bafflement since late August as their once-dominant political position has eroded,” Steve Kornacki writes in the New York Observer.

“Long before this week, the economy had already emerged as the top issue — by far — on the minds of voters. Now, Americans will be inundated with stories about the potentially devastating fallout from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch and the perilous footing of A.I.G. — thereby focusing their attention even more on the economy and their own financial security,” Mr. Kornacki said.

“An election driven by economic anxiety generally works to the Democrats’ advantage, simply because more voters tend to identify with the party’s economic message than with the GOP’s. Obviously, this doesn’t hold when tough economic times coincide with Democratic leadership like in 1980, when a staggering ‘misery index’ helped seal Jimmy Carter’s fate — but it’s the Republicans who have owned the White House for the past eight years; bad economic news should only confirm the public’s assumptions about their agenda. This may bolster Mr. Obama’s frantic effort to make this year’s election a referendum on George W. Bush’s presidency.”

Surge in New York

Sen. John McCain “has experienced a surge of support among women in heavily Democratic New York state,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker writes.

“The internal Republican and Democratic polls, details of which were provided to the Post, have stunned members of both parties — and produced deep worries among Democrats,” Mr. Dicker said.

“One great concern for Democrats is that the data show a continuous movement toward the McCain-Palin ticket by women, a majority of whom traditionally favor Democrats.

“The movement by women toward McCain is being credited to Democratic attacks on Alaska Gov. Palin, last week’s ‘lipstick on a pig’ crack by Obama and to the continuing unhappiness by female Democrats over Obama’s failure to pick Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.

“‘If it winds up being tight in New York, that means McCain wins the election nationally,’ said a prominent Democrat familiar with some of the polling data.

“A prominent Republican familiar with the results said, ‘It really is something, because we just assumed Obama would carry such a heavily Democratic state like New York with no difficulty.’”

Energy expert

“In all the analysis, commentary, reaction, second guessing and prognosticating on the impact of John McCain’s choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, her most obvious area of experience and expertise is being strangely neglected: She is the only candidate among the four on the major-party tickets who has a first-hand understanding of the energy sector. That is an important credential in a national campaign where anxiety over energy issues now surpasses even war fatigue among voters’ top concerns,” Dave Juday writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Indeed, Congress, lead by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is now going to try to cram some kind of fig-leaf legislation through in the last 10 days scheduled for this session. Pelosi has even come up with a plan to have some — but not full — debate on off-shore drilling issues.

“That discussion, of course, has federal versus state implications with which Palin is quite familiar. The irony is that, despite the scripted disparagement from Democratic politicians and operatives about Palin’s experience, she happens to be one of the most experienced elected officials in the nation on the very issue the Democratic House speaker now deems the top priority for the ‘last act’ of the 110th Congress,” said Mr. Juday, who is a commodity-market analyst.

“Prior to being governor, Palin served on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a state entity that manages the state’s oil and gas leases. Part of the commission’s management charge is to balance the potential conflict between Alaska’s short-term revenue interest from high production rates with the longer-term interests of maximizing ultimate recovery from slower extraction. In other words, Palin has been a hands-on decision maker dealing with the technicalities of reservoir engineering science within the policy-making context of federalism and economic policy. Her voice of experience should be a welcome one in the debate over energy policy.”

New battlegrounds

“After all the speculation of Democrats’ expanded playing field this year, a new poll suggests John McCain may be the one making inroads,” reporter Stephen Dinan writes in a blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“A Quinnipiac University Poll of New Jersey voters puts McCain within three percentage points of Barack Obama, trailing 48-45. A month ago, the same poll showed McCain trailing 51-41,” Mr. Dinan said.

“Now it’s not likely McCain wins New Jersey, just as it’s not likely Obama wins Virginia. And the two states are a good comparison — both are quadrennial teases that never turn into the battle pundits think they should. For example, in 2004 late-season polling showed President Bush competitive with John Kerry in New Jersey, but in the end Kerry won the state 53-46.

“Still, that margin was closer than the nine percentage-point victory Bush won in Virginia — a state that, once again, Democrats and some pundits put in the toss-up category.”

The trucker vote

“If you’ve got a nice blue and white ‘Obama for President’ sticker on the back of your Toyota Prius and a big 18-wheel rig starts riding your butt, it might be best to let him by, because it’s very likely that the driver isn’t on your political team,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“It’s an unofficial poll, but a site for truckers finds that Sen. John McCain is the industry’s fave over Sen. Barack Obama, 67 to 27 percent.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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