Analyzing a spate of recent polls, political analyst Michael Barone finds that even with Obama’s whirlwind trip around the world and the MSM’s relentlessly favorable coverage of every breath he takes, every move he  makes and every vow he breaks (second item), “the basic dynamics of the race haven’t changed”:

[H]e doesn’t come close to maximizing the Democratic vote. And there is some evidence that the balance of enthusiasm has shifted and that young people — who seemed to turn out and vote for Obama in unusually high numbers in the primaries and caucuses — are no long so enthusiastic about him. …

For most of this year, the balance of enthusiasm has been in favor of Democrats and Obama. Turnout in Democratic primaries was about 50 percent higher than in Republican primaries while both parties’ nominations were seriously contested; Democrats generally and Obama in particular have raised far more money than Republicans; McCain voters have typically expressed less enthusiasm for their candidate than Obama voters have for theirs.

So how to explain the disconnect between there being a huge gap anongst those calling themselves Dems vs. Repubs – 54 percent v. 38 percent in a Washington Post-ABC poll conducted between June 12-June 15, 2008 – and the razor-thin margin Obama has over his opponent? At a time when Dems are successfully executing a new “Southern Strategy” and running conservatives for Congress in Republican strongholds, voters are not comfortable with Obama’s views and inexperience, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:    

[T]he key question in the contest isn’t over any single issue being debated between the Democrats’ Sen. Obama or the Republicans’ Sen. John McCain. The focus has turned to the Democratic candidate himself: Can Americans get comfortable with the background and experience level of Sen. Obama?

This dynamic is underscored in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey’s most striking finding: Fully half of all voters say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. Obama would be as they decide how they will vote, while only a quarter say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. McCain would be.

The challenge that presents for Sen. Obama is illustrated by a second question. When voters were asked whether they could identify with the background and values of the two candidates, 58% said they could identify with Sen. McCain on that account, while 47% said the same of Sen. Obama. More than four in 10 said the Democratic contender doesn’t have values and a background they can identify with. …

[B]y a 55% to 35% margin, voters are more likely to say Sen. Obama would be the riskier choice. By 2-to-1, voters chose Sen. McCain when asked which candidate would be a better commander in chief and who has better knowledge and experience to handle being president.

Noting that “Barack Obama and John McCain are running neck and neck,” syndicated columnist Victor Davis Hanson believes that “Democrats could probably have defeated Republican John McCain with a flawed, but seasoned candidate like Hillary Clinton.”

He won’t get an argument from Party Unity My Ass (PUMA) and other groups hoping to put Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot and force a roll call vote at the DNC Convention in Denver. Wire service Agence France-Presse reports:

Colorado Women Count/Women Vote said it would hold a pro-Clinton parade in Denver on August 26, the second day of the convention when the New York senator is rumored to be given a prime-time speaking slot.

The date is also the 88th anniversary of female suffrage in the United States, and the group said it would press home its demand for Clinton supporters to have a chance to vote for her on the first ballot with Obama.

Even if she has no chance of winning, given Obama’s overall lead in the delegate count, such a vote would mark a symbolic confirmation of the nearly 18 million primary votes won by Clinton during her battle for the nomination.

But other pro-Clinton groups such as PUMA … claim that she could still win the nomination if enough Obama delegates can be persuaded to switch sides at the Denver convention, and are lobbying to that end.

Aside from the palpable fear that the Dem party is running an even weaker candidate against the GOP’s own weak candidate, Time magazine’s Karen Tumulty notes:

Obama has never shown proper regard for a campaign [Clinton] believes was as historic an achievement as his. True, Obama has asked Clinton to give a prime-time speech on the second night of the convention later this month. But as the odds that she will be Obama’s running mate have faded, there are signs that Clinton’s backers could demand one last show of respect before Obama claims the nomination in Denver. Clinton has been giving tacit encouragement to suggestions that her name be placed in nomination at the convention, a symbolic move that would be a reminder of the bruising primary battle. 

Whatever the underlying motivation, here’s what Hillary told her supporters (video) at a fund-raising event July 31st in Los Altos Hills, CA, about considering having her name placed on the ballot:

[W]hat will happen at the convention in respect to … my putting my name in nomination, a roll call vote and the usual kind of process that occurs at conventions. … We’re trying to work that out with the Obama campaign and the DNC.

I happen to believe that we will come out stronger if people feel that their voices were heard and their views were respected. … I know from just what I’m hearing that there’s incredible pent up desire, and I think that people want to feel … it’s a catharsis, we’re here, we did it, and everybody get behind Senator Obama. …

No decisions have been made and so we are trying to work all this through with the DNA and with the Obama campaign. …

If you look at recent history … most [losing candidates] didn’t endorse until the convention. [They] held out till the convention … often waged platform or rules or credentials fights …  

Delegates can decide to do this on their own, they don’t need permission, they can decide under the rules of the DNC. I think it would be better if we had a plan that we actually put in place.

She seemed to dial it back just a tad on a live Web chat she hosted on her campaign Web site yesterday, reports The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza:

Senator Obama and I share the goal of ensuring that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected. I want to assure everyone we are working together with Senator Obama’s campaign and the DNC, and I am confident we will have a successful and unified Convention in Denver.

For his part, Obama “dismissed suggestions that the nominating convention could be marred by tensions between his supporters and the die-hard backers of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” reports The Associated Press. There he goes again – being dismissive of a voting bloc he desperately needs.

While a contested convention is a political junkie’s dream, it is doubtful whether McCain can win the White House without the cross-over votes from Hillary’s white, blue-collar base and from the deeply disaffected women who have formed groups like PUMA – which won’t be coming his way if Hillary wrests the nomination from Obama.

Having said that, The Stiletto hopes that PUMA and others press on with their fight on Hillary’s behalf. If Hillary guts it out and prevails – just as McCain did (second item), even after running out of money and with no donors in sight – she will transcend Whitewater, husband Bill’s tawdriness and any lingering doubts that she couldn’t win the nomination without riding her husband’s coattails (or as Fr. Michael Pfleger so memorably put it (video) during a “sermon” at Trinity United Church of Christ in May: “[S]he just always thought ‘this is mine. I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white and this is mine.’”). She will be a worthy opponent to McCain.

And because she owes the far-left wing of her party absolutely nothing, if elected she will take her responsibilities as a war president very seriously and is far likelier than Obama to proceed slowly and sensibly so as to achieve foreign policy and national security goals that are in our country’s best interests.

At the end of the day, should McCain lose the election, his voters will be able to live with Hillary as president.

Maureen Dowd And The Crisis Of The “Sore Winners”

By Amy Siskind, Special to The Stiletto Blog 

I coach young children in team sports. I teach them that there are two important life lessons which you will learn playing sports. One is the notion of “teamwork” – working with and depending on others. The second lesson is that in each game there is a winning team and a losing team. When you walk off the field or the court, act with grace and dignity, whatever the outcome. 

Maureen Dowd’s coach missed the second lesson. Apparently, many of Sen. Barack Obama’s other surrogates seem to have missed out on this life lesson as well.

We all have our struggles in life. We have good times and bad. We do things that we later regret. We make mistakes. 

But there is one thing that cannot be forgiven – the hubris that comes along with being a sore winner.

I have been at a loss since Sen. Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign. I could not understand how Obama and his surrogates could think that by belittling, degrading and bullying millions of Democratic men and women, that this would somehow unite the party? I just could not grasp where they were coming from.

And the polls bore out the same. When Clinton first suspended her campaign, a CNN poll showed that 60% of her 18 million voters would move to Obama.  A month later, in early July, that number had actually dropped to 54% – meaning that 46% of Clinton’s voters were not planning to vote for Obama – shocking? Well, no.

Instead of reaching out and unifying the party, Obama told us: “Get over it.” He acted aloof towards Clinton donors in meetings. At a house party in New York in late June, one of Obama’s top female aides told the group: “We’re not used to this drama.”

Obama selected Patty Solis Doyle to be chief of staff to his yet to be named vice president. Salt and more salt in open wounds.

But the degradation did not stop there. There was that letter from former DNC chair Don Fowler and DNC Secretary Alice Germond to Clinton donors about their “fatigue and irritation,” and the daily diatribes by Obama surrogates: “childish,” “move on already,” and “angry bunch of women.”  Hmmm. I find myself still puzzled by this Obama campaign strategy; but I continued to read the polls.

Obama is the first Democratic candidate for president in 20 years who is actually BEHIND the Republican nominee with women over 40. Typically, a Democratic candidate can count on a 10-15 point lead with this demographic – but Obama is BEHIND Sen. John McCain by 4 points in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll conduced in late July, and a new Zogby Poll shows McCain closed a 10 points gap with Obama among all women since early July.

But, okay. Clearly the Obama Campaign knows something that I don’t. They must have a strategy here. Surely degrading, belittling and bullying voters will make them want to come aboard. Right?

And now, back to our gal Maureen Dowd, who this past Sunday came out with yet another of her blistering attacks on women. This time rather than vilify Clinton herself, we Clinton supporters got a turn to be the target. The first sentence of her op-ed reads: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Barack Obama must continue to grovel to Hillary Clinton’s dead-enders, some of whom mutter darkly that they will not only not vote for him, they will never vote for a man again.” 

First off, I would like to point out that Dowd copied the phrase “Clinton dead-enders” from a much younger and more talented writer, The New Republic’s Michelle Goldberg, who wrote an article in June titled “3 A.M For Feminism:  Clinton Dead-Enders And The Crisis Of The Women’s Movement.” Michelle’s piece is thoughtful and insightful – not a sling full of mud. 

Second, Obama does not have to continue anything – he and his surrogates need to START acting with dignity and grace – not act like sore winners. 

And last, we are hardly muttering that we will never vote for a man again. We are ready, willing and able to vote for a qualified man. We voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry, to name a few. And if Maureen, et al., continue to degrade us, belittle us, bully us, and act like sore winners, we will once again be voting for a man – John McCain!

About Amy Siskind:  Former Wall Street executive Amy Siskind, a 42-year-old mother of two from Westchester, NY, was amongst the speakers (video) at the “Count The Votes” rally in Washington, D.C. on May 31st. In an interview with Fox News Channel’s Eric Shawn (video), the self-described “lifelong” Democrat, donor and volunteer for the party explained why she would not vote for Barack Obama under any circumstances. Though she was obviously anguished by her party’s decision to hand the nomination to Obama on a silver platter, her comments were more thoughtful and insightful than much of what you hear from professional pundits chattering away on TV.

As a founding member of Together4US Siskind is in close contact with other pro-Hillary groups who refuse to rally behind Obama, and she recently organized a gathering (second item) of top Clinton donors at which McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina made a pitch for her candidate. The Stiletto has invited Siskind to write about the efforts of Hillary supporters to assert the will of rank-and-file Dems over the fiat of the party elites at the DNC Convention, as well as to contribute her thoughts throughout the General Election campaign.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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