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« PA 11: Kanjorski (D) +9 | Blog Home Page | OR: Smith (R) +3 »

Strategy Memo: Shift Happens

Good Thursday morning. The price of gold packed on the largest one-day gain in its history yesterday, hinting at investors' low confidence in the market. One thing that's strangely untouched: The value of the dollar, a happy silver lining. Here's what Washington is watching today:

-- As markets around the world take nose dives this week, Barack Obama held huge fundraisers on Tuesday that raised him an incredible $9 million in one night. President Bush, scheduled to attend fundraisers for GOP candidates in Alabama and Florida today, has decided to cancel the events instead and to focus on the economic crisis.

-- Once again, the campaign for president has undergone what feels like a tectonic shift. Given the crisis on Wall Street, focus is on the two presidential candidates' economic plans. And new regulation for financial markets is a great way to reinforce the underlying message that change is needed, something that inherently benefits Obama (65% of respondents think Obama would bring change to Washington; just 37% say the same about John McCain, per a new New York Times/CBS poll).

-- For ten days, McCain led the RCP Average, and by as many as 3 points. Now, Obama has reasserted a lead of just about a single point, as of 8 a.m. today. Take from this one lesson for the 2012 race: There's no such thing as a sustained convention bounce anymore. The day before the Democratic convention, Obama led by a little over a single point. Now, he's up about a point. The difference is miles away from statistically significant.

-- But something more fundamental shifted in the race and caused McCain to surrender the lead, and it's something more troubling than a focus on economic issues. The simple fact is that Sarah Palin has faded from the front pages. The vice presidential nominee has given up her spot to Lehman Brothers and AIG, and, given less attention, has forced conservatives to recall that they weren't all that enthusiastic about John McCain in the first place. Palin helped heal the base, but she's going to need to stay at the fore of the base's mind to get them motivated enough to do the grunt work.

-- One way Sarah Palin does not want to be in the spotlight: Having her email hacked. Hackers have apparently broken into Palin's personal Yahoo account, and while campaign manager Rick Davis says the matter has been turned over to authorities, it still raises questions about the use of personal email to conduct official business, The Swamp's Mark Silva writes. Communications between Palin, her lieutenant governor and an appointee to a state board were disclosed by hackers, leaving some to wonder whether any so-called "troopergate" emails found their way into the Yahoo inbox.

-- Palin's interview with Sean Hannity, the first part of which aired last night, is one of just two the candidate has done so far, though it was a bit of a softball. McCain and Obama aren't having regular press conferences. In fact, campaign reporters are cut off from access more than at any time since the media began regularly following candidates, write Politico's Allen and Budoff Brown. Campaigns say they are tired of the minor controversies that pop up on a daily basis, though their candidate making an appearance on a campaign plane could change that.

-- Factor Of The Day: Want to understand why cable news shows all seem to be talking about the same thing later in the day? Washington Post's The Fix understands it's all about the Drudge Report. In terms of shaping coverage, perhaps no single entity has more to do with how the rest of the media acts than Matt Drudge, and, as Cillizza writes (see above link), there's a concrete reason why McCain has earned better coverage in recent days.

-- Today On The Trail: Obama is in Espanola, New Mexico this morning for a rally, his only public event of the day. McCain and Palin hold joint rallies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Joe Biden is in Canton, Ohio for a rally before driving off to Youngstown, and Michelle Obama has her own events scheduled for Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina.