22 ago 08 Media and US elections analysis

By Ben Whitford, Salte Magazine

With everyone still waiting—and waiting, and waiting—for veep announcements, the Wall Street Journal tops its online newsbox with a new poll that puts U.S. presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain in a statistical dead heat. The Washington Post leads with a report on Obama’s efforts to break the tie by appealing to voters’ pocketbooks; the Democratic nominee lamented U.S. job losses while on the stump in southern Virginia yesterday. The Los Angeles Times leads with a look at the candidates’ tax proposals; economists say that both candidates’ plans would likely add trillions to the national debt.

Echoing yesterday’s LAT poll, the WSJ fronts national numbers suggesting that Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain has dwindled to the point where the two candidates are statistically tied. The new poll puts Obama at 45 percent, three points ahead of his Republican rival. Obama’s biggest problem, it seems, is a hangover from the primary battle: Only half of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are backing the Democratic nominee, and one in five says he or she supports McCain. The NYT also has new poll numbers, in which voters say that neither candidate has made clear what he would do as president. Respondents trusted Obama more than McCain to manage the economy, their top overall priority. For foreign policy, however, McCain came out ahead.

Obama tried to press home his apparent economic advantage yesterday in Virginia’s economically distressed southside. As the Post notes, that wouldn’t normally be fertile ground for a Democrat, but with popular former Gov. Mark Warner at his side, Obama did his best to win over voters by attacking the Bush administration’s economic failings. The NYT sees Obama’s renewed economic focus as an attempt to shift from the sweeping oratory of his primary campaign to a more human level. That could help him in Pennsylvania, the paper notes in an off-lead report, where neither candidates’ campaign has so far struck a chord.

The McCain camp, meanwhile, is warming up for next week’s Democratic National Convention. The WSJ reports that the GOP is making an unusually concerted effort to rain on the Democrats’ parade, with Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Tim Pawlenty all heading to Denver to jeer from the sidelines. On the WSJ‘s edit page, Karl Rove provides a glimpse of the GOP’s plan of attack, arguing that Obama’s convention speech will be judged on how well it counters “the impression that he’s more of a rock star than a person of serious public purpose.” Any balloons, ticker-tape, or cheering crowds, in short, will likely be considered fair game.

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