Polls taken after the Republican convention suggested that Mr. McCain had enjoyed a surge of support — particularly among white women after his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate — but the latest poll indicates “the Palin effect” was, at least so far, a limited burst of interest. The contest appeared to be roughly where it was before the two conventions and before the vice-presidential selections: Mr. Obama had the support of 48 percent of registered voters, compared with 43 percent for Mr. McCain, a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error, and statistically unchanged from the tally in the last New York Times/CBS News poll, in mid-August.
True, the only poll that counts is the one taken Nov. 4. But I’ll take a reason to smile when it appears. My advice to the Obama team: Don’t let the right wing frame the debate. Point out McCain’s lies and his ties to Bush, but focus on how your guy can make things better. And it appears much of the electorate still isn’t convinced that the Illinois senator would make a better commander-in-chief; they’re buying that the Iraq surge was a good thing. Perhaps it was; I have serious doubts about that, and so do people much smarter than me — but let’s remind the folks that the occupation was, is, and always will be wrong and immoral, and no present or future action can or will change that.
It’s time to focus, keep the eye on substance and character, and stand strong. With less than two months to go until the election, there is no time to waste on Republican-created distractions. McCain and Palin indeed would take us over a bridge to nowhere and toward a dangerous and uncertain future. At this point, Obama, whatever his flaws, is the only way continued GOP rule can end.