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Panel on the State of the Race

Panel on the State of the Race

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 22, 2008

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't think of any place I'd rather be as election day draws close than running an underdog campaign in the state of New Hampshire.

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: My view is that Barack Obama is the underdog and will continue to be the underdog until he is sitting in the Oval Office!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, who is the underdog here? Let's look at our latest polls just out today. FOX News opinion dynamics poll has Barack Obama enjoying a nine-point lead, this among likely voters. That means that the voters in the polls have been asked about voting habits in an effort to determine how likely they are to vote.

The Real Clear Politics average of all polls is a little brighter for McCain, about 50 percent for Obama, 43 percent for McCain. That's an average of about eight or ten polls. So you get a sense of it.

Folks, Obama is leading. So the question is -- well, let me just ask this--is this race, at this stage of the game, two weeks to go, a lead in both that average and in our poll and other polls outside the margin of error, still able to change and be won by John McCain?

Some thoughts from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard" Nina Easton Washington Bureau Chief of "Fortune" magazine, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I would say the answer is yes, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. It wouldn't be entirely unprecedented, but you have to go back to-and Al Gore gained about five or six points in the last week or two of the campaign.

But it's not likely, and particularly because of the "three m's"- - the market, the media, and the money.

And, look, John McCain can't sustain many days like today when the stock market loses 514 points. I mean, he's got to have a rising stock market in the last couple of weeks if he's going to get anywhere.

And, then, of course, there's the money, which--Barack Obama has all the money. He's outspending McCain in the battleground states three or four to one. And using his money wisely, advertising on all these athletic events, going after an audience which watches sports on TV, which is not a liberal Democratic audience, a very good use of the money.

And then there's the media. We know--everything that McCain or Sarah Palin do the media attacks, and everything that Obama does, they love, or all the ridiculous foolish statements by Joe Biden, they ignore.

So when you put those three together, the market, the money, and the media, it's very, very tough for McCain.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Always the media's fault. That's why Bush was elected twice.

BARNES: Every study of the media shows that by more than two to one they have favored Obama.

EASTON: It's not defining the campaign.

BARNES: It's playing a roll. I never said it was defining the campaign. It's a big part of the campaign.

EASTON: Anyway, I would say never say never in terms of McCain, especially in this particular campaign. These polls show that Obama has owned the last 30 days, and he continues to. And what's interesting --

HUME: And is that because of events or because he's run such a clever campaign, or what?

EASTON: I think it is because a narrative has set in. Fairly or unfairly, this narrative set in that John McCain is more erratic, more hot- headed, less of a stable decision maker. Obama is cool, the cool guy, has a cool temperament, calm.

And I think that's from two things. I think that's from their performance at the debates, and I think it's from their reaction to the financial crises.

And when you just hear from people and look at what people are saying, real people are saying, they bring those, both of those things up.

And I'm surprised at Joe the plumber--the other thing I would say about these polls, I thought Joe the plumber would have more of an impact, because I did think that Barack Obama's big vulnerability is being a very liberal Democrat.

And this was finally, I think, John McCain found a voice and a way to do that when he talked about share the wealth.

But it doesn't seem to have affected the polls.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the news is grim for McCain. There are two numbers inside the polls that are troubling for the McCain campaign.

The first is that 88 percent of Democrats now support Obama. The Democrats have come home. Their hope, of course, were the Clinton Democrats, and the reason that you see all the Midwestern Appalachian states, which were assumed to be in play all tending Democratic is because the Clinton people have gone home to Obama.

In part because the Palin effect didn't work, the original first couple of weeks when she was a media star. McCain and Palin spoke about Clinton highly, trying to get that kind of constituent. It didn't work.

She's been caricatured not so much by the Obama campaign as by the media, the late-night host, "Saturday Night Live" as empty-headed, igloo-dwelling, right wing nut, and it has taken.

And, secondly, the appeal you might have expected McCain would have to independents, Reagan Democrats in those states, erodes in the face of a financial tsunami.

The appeal of Reaganism in those constituencies is the social issues. But the guns and god stuff disappears if your retirement and your job is in jeopardy. So I think that's really hurt McCain.

HUME: Now, what about--late in the race we see tightening as a rule. It looked like we were starting to see it last week. Now it appears in most polls to be going the other way. Should we look for tightening as the race gets closer and interpret it as anything other than natural tightening?

BARNES: I think we should see it, and it probably will just be natural tightening.

Let me just say one other thing. I don't think it is a narrative that has set in, and I don't think the Sarah Palin effect has gone away. What happened is a huge event. Charles, you called it the financial tsunami. That changed everything.

And it wasn't voters coming to some conclusion that they thought Obama was better in handling the financial crisis. He didn't do anything during the finance crisis. He stood on the sidelines. It was the crisis itself that killed the McCain campaign. And it continues when we see the market falling.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

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