Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mike Murphy is making sense

Writing at Swampland, former and probably still in some capacity McCain advisor Mike Murphy:

But these smart money Democrats are desperate [for?] two things; gallons of John McCain’s political blood sloshing around the convention hall floor and a big bounce in the polls. No bounce has come (why would it on day two?) and the McCain bashing has been limited. The Obama High Command thinks a pure slash and burn approach to McCain is very dangerous stuff in a election where the voters are so unhappy... [Rank and file Democrats] think Obama is slipping and it worries them. It’s interesting; often the McCain campaign seems to be all tactics and no strategy, while the Obama campaign is often long on strategy and short on tactics. The movers and shakers here are feeling McCain’s sharp tactics while the potential dead-on correct Obama strategy remains a cloud of unfelt intellectual property. This has given a certain psychological edge here to McCain.

Agreed. Distinguishing between "strategy" and "tactics" might be the most irritating cliche going, but in this case it's actually appropriate.

Murphy got a vicious response for this post from the Swampland comment section, which is mostly a cabal of Joe Klein-hating liberals like myself, but more feral. But David Corn, who I'm pretty sure never worked for John McCain, wrote almost exactly the same thing today:

"[A Democratic insider] said that there had been a loot [sic] of private polling done on the Democratic side that indicates that on-the-fence voters would not buy a direct slam on McCain and that they would not absorb any negative information about him unless the attacker paid tribute to McCain's military service. The consultant was adamant on this point. S/he maintained that the polling did show that voter perceptions of McCain could be changed to benefit Obama, if the attack was crafted the right way and McCain was not merely blasted."

Corn then goes on to express more skepticism about the long-term strategy than Murphy did, and his wish that these polling data weren't being kept under wraps. I would also like to see those numbers, but they probably wouldn't let me even if I asked.

Anyway, Mike Murphy's analysis may be totally insincere and calculated to advance McCain's talking points or whatever, but it also seems pretty accurate. His characterization of the Obama camp's thinking is backed up by David Corn's reporting and it's obvious that McCain has been hitting much harder than Obama in the early going. He actually professes more confidence in the Obama strategy than Corn does.

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