Things certainly look bleak for the McCain/Palin ticket right now. The latest polls have Obama gaining significant momentum. In fact, the latest CBS News poll has Barack Obama with a nine-point advantage. Just two weeks ago, these very same polls showed McCain with all the momentum and leading in the key toss-up states, but things have changed dramatically.
According to the polls, if the election were held today, Obama would enjoy a significant victory in the Electoral College. Certainly, there’s nearly five weeks to go until the upcoming election and there is ample time for voter sentiment to change yet again.
The pundits point to McCain's response to the economic meltdown as being the key to this latest shift in election dynamics. And they point to the Palin vs. Biden debates as just one of many things that could serve to reverse or accelerate the momentum. Certainly, some sort of international crisis could be another election changer, but I still contend that viewing this election in the classical sense as one individual against another is seriously flawed.
George Bush's approval rating has now matched Harry Truman's in 1952 as one of the lowest ever; of course, the approval rating for Congress is almost in single digits. Nonetheless, this election is Obama vs. Obama, and that explains why, after the first national debate where the pundits considered the debate to be a draw at worse, the majority of polls show that Obama was considered the winner.
People are making the evaluation on whether Obama is a safe bet or not, and right now they are deciding he is a safe bet. The environment for Republicans isn't good this cycle, but it’s nearly as bad for the Democratic majority in Congress.
The congressional approval ratings, however, are not a great indicator as the power of incumbency remains the dominant factor. It should be an interesting month as the election heats up.