October 21st, 2008
11:48 AM ET

Don’t go wobbly, Dems

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/21/art.obamarally.jpg]

Editor's Note: In addition to being a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign and the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Robert M. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.

Robert M. Shrum
Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.

Two weeks to go—time enough for one last case of Democratic wobbles and one last resort fueled by Republican desperation.

Democrats, scarred by the stolen election of 2000 and the near miss of 2004, privately worry, wring their hands and, traveling cyberspace’s vast expanse, trip over a discouraging word, poll, or prediction. Generally, they needn’t look farther than the Drudge Report, which shamelessly selects information—and disinformation—in order to stereotype Barack Obama and denigrate his prospects.

With genuine anguish, one Democrat said to me Sunday, “Did you see Drudge has Obama only 2.7 percent ahead?”

It wasn’t actually Drudge, but a poll by Zogby, which Drudge had cherry picked for its pessimism. (Unlike Drudge, Zogby isn’t biased; he famously elected Kerry in 2004.) Rasmussen’s poll used to be Drudge’s favorite, but on Sunday it showed Obama leading by six, so Drudge swept it under the rug.

Perhaps for Democrats, the dark night of doubt is inevitable before victory dawns. But a study of the election state by state reveals McCain has a virtually impossible tight rope walk to victory while Obama has five or six different avenues to win—some of which are veritable boulevards. Not a single one of the states won by John Kerry in 2004 is even close.

In addition, Obama leads, in the Real Clear Politics average of the latest polls, in nine states won by George W. Bush in 2004, including Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada. Even in Missouri Obama has a small advantage, and he’s only slightly behind in three other Bush states. As former Reagan and Huckabee campaign manager Ed Rollins puts it, McCain has to “draw an inside straight” to win this game.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Democrats • Raw Politics
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Marylou

    We are already seein problems with voting machines in Florida and W. Virginia, votes going to McCain whent he Obama button is pushed. Everyone must be VIGILIANT..in addition, in North Carolina voters that were harassed while voting after Obamas rally there had tires on 30 of their cars slashed. Hard to believe in BROAD DAYLIGHT no one saw this. Also in North Carolina someone shot a black bear in the head, and then coved it with Obama signs and dumped it on a college campus.

    October 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  2. Jasmyne Harris

    I love CNN and I trust them with delivering the facts. I do not feel they're misleading or biased, they have just as much coverage (good and bad) on both canidates. I stay glued to my television watching the news (CSpan,Fox :(,MSNBC and of course CNN), lol...I even call CNN my boyfriend because I trust and love them. I dont think that they have uneven coverage...I applaud you CNN b/c you've kept me informed and hungry for more!

    October 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  3. Brenda Harris

    We are going to have to come up with new ways to vote. Vote are being stolen and everyone knows it. Voting machines are computers and they can do what ever someone programs them to do. So if a republican programer wants them to give a certain result it can.

    October 21, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  4. Alekat

    Colin Powell just endorsed someone who is invited a worldwide crisis if we elect him. I would prefer to elect McCain and have this country not be tested by the world as Biden guaranteed will happen if we elect his own ticket. His comments were eerie and ominous and CNN is not reporting them!!! Shame on you – we all know you are in the bag for Obama and this proves it. He needs CNN to get elected.

    Where is CNN’s coverage on Joe Biden’s comments over the weekend? The one’s he made when he didn’t know the press was there? When he thought he was just talking to a room of Obama campaign donors? The speech where Biden guaranteed and said mark my words “If Obama gets elected we wll be dealing with a major international crisis within 6 months of his presidency. Where is your reporting on this? Why haven’t we seen the full version of these comments on CNN?

    October 21, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  5. Dottie Fale

    I realize that my opinion does not count for much. However, I am deeply offended by McCain's accusation that Democrats are socialists. McCain's tactics are despicable. When he accuses Obama of socialism, he also accuses Obama's supporters.

    October 21, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  6. Lucy

    The Republicans will do anything to win. Laws and lies don't hinder them. Politics is a game the Republicans have mastered and look at all the scandals that have occurred the last 8 years of Republican rule. Republican rule produced greed, corruption, and a financial depression. It is like a scene out of girls gone wild...but CNN has titled it Culprits of the Collapse and Fat Cats of Wall Street.

    Obama is bright, hopeful, an organizer, a listener, and can reach people from all walks of life. There is already reports of problems with the machines and it is my understanding that most voting machines have no backup. Everything slants to a win for Obama. Hopefully if we watch closely, we can stop the Republicans dirty tricks.

    October 21, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  7. Jocely

    Today Senator Obama host a forum on economy and how to grow jobs in the country.
    I am shock to see CNN and MSNBC did not cover something the American people would love to here instead they gave full coverage to Pelin and John MCCain Negative actack which serve no good any one since the beginning of the campaign.



    October 21, 2008 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Rick

    What gets me is all the poles CNN puts up.
    They can have both a positive and negative effect on any campaign.
    The positive effect is it leads one to "believe" their candidate is ahead.
    The negative effect is they get complacent, they think "How can we lose with this kind of lead".
    They also have the effect of creating the scenario of "well nobody wants to back a loser". So they jump on the bandwagon of the "perceived" winner.
    This is why I think ALL polls should be banned from being covered by the news.
    Or at least release them without the added commentary that "explains" the poll.
    I see a lot of this "explaining" bordering on promoting a candidate.
    Something an unbiased media should not be doing.

    But the biggest complaint I have about the polls is they are all misleading.
    A sample size of 1,500 people is hardly representative of 40+ million potential voters of all different backgrounds and education levels.
    Almost every poll I've seen CNN post has a sample pool of less than 2,000 people. Hardly large enough to represent the majority views of Americans.

    October 21, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  9. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    This is the most arrogant piece of crap I've read on this site in a while. You can manipulate the data to say anything you want. And crowd size doesn't always equate to voter turnout. I wouldn't be opening that bottle of celebratory champagne in the Democratic camp just yet.

    October 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  10. Debbie

    Let me show McCain/Palin and ALL other republicans who the "real" Americans are by voting for Obama...I'm a Christian and a woman...I allow all Americans to have their point of view however, I take issues that I have to be a conservative republican to be a "real" American and a Christian. God made us ALL!!!! Our military fight for the rights of us ALL!!!! Republicans hear me now...you and you alone have lost this race. Shame on those who have sunk so low as to judge who is the 'real' Americans and worked to divide this country even more than we were already divided. So much for country first huh?

    October 21, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  11. Sandra

    Too bad everyone doesn't know how lucky we really are that Gore didn't win in 2000. He would have been horrible dealing with 9/11.

    Too bad everyone is willing to overlook all of Obamas deficiencies and questionable alliances. We are in for very a bad ride with Obama.

    October 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  12. James in Nebraska

    Politics, Dem or Repub, always screw things up and this will be no different.

    I don't belive any poll I see. 70% of polls and statistics have made up data. There, hows that one?

    October 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  13. Susan

    I am in stunned disbelief that the next president of our county is a man that refused to confirm basic human rights on a living breathing human being. If he can't stand up for basic human rights of a helpless but living and breathing baby–who can he stand up for???

    October 21, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  14. Annie Kate

    If I were the Democrats I would ignore the polls; you can make statistics say anything you want. The only true measure will be made on election day at the polls and in looking at the crowds that turn out to see Obama and the crowds that turn out to see McCain it doesn't seem to be much question who is going to win.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  15. Brad Rea

    The worrying and hand wringing are for good reason, too. Republican political methods have managed to do things I never would have believed could or would happen in this country.

    Senator Obama, regardless of any polling numbers, faces a daunting challenge. In order to win this race, he must do nothing less than unite Americans faster than Republicans can divide them.

    October 21, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  16. Gary B.

    Every time I turn on CNN their is Mccain or Palin with misleading and false comments about Obama. I thought CNN was a fair and balanced news. It looks like your trying to turn the election. why don't you play more even coverage. You will not have me as a veiwer if this continues. EX-Republican thanks to W.

    October 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  17. Vegas

    Stolen election in 2000...

    I'm sorry... I thought the three or more independent recounts all came back Bush... That doens't hold water anymore...

    But that's cool... ACORN will make sure this one goes CNN's way

    October 21, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  18. Michelle

    I hope Democrats will go to vote in record numbers
    People are posting video on youtube of voters being
    harassed by McCain supporters in NC as they went
    to cast their ballots.I wonder if that does not border

    October 21, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  19. Ashley, Auburn, GA

    The democrats have a right to be worried. So much corruption exists in this country I often wonder who can be trusted. If you doubt this, just watch the Culprits of the Collapse.

    October 21, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  20. MPalalay (California)

    Nice, fair, and intelligent piece, Mr. Shrum! Don't worry, I'm a "Dem" and my decision for this presidential election is all set and solidly grounded.

    It did not start out that way, however. Having been a Hillary supporter during the primaries, I eventually ended up testing the waters with the Obama camp after her loss. I also tried to compare and contrast across party lines just to see my options and if there was anything I was perhaps missing out on.

    After having done my homework and research in whatever medium and genre, and as thoroughly as I could using all my senses, I chose Sen Obama. I found all the qualities in a president that I was looking for: bright, fair-minded, sensible, sensitive, cool, confident, driven, determined, compassionate especially towards the masses...need I say more? Watching him during the debates with Sen. McCain and on his campaign trail had not only reaffirmed my decision even more, but totally nailed it shut. And he certainly gives us a big bonus with his choices of an equally astute wife and a running mate to boot.

    No, Mr. Shrum; this is not one wobbly Dem, and I am confident there are plenty more out there. As for those who are, stabilize yourselves and go VOTE. Do not forget what Mr. Shrum had referred to as "Stolen Election of 2000" and the "Near Miss of 2004." Every vote counts, and it's not a cliche. What are at stake here are our lives and that of our children and grandchildren.

    October 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  21. Yalem

    Amerca is the greatest nation in the world and there is nothing like it. Please don't take this country for granted! Go out and vote!!!!

    Our greatest nation is hurting by the economy, people are loosing their jobs at the same time they are loosing their homes. It is time for a change with new idea; new itelectual figure. This counrty needs a president who would work very hard to bring the country strong again. This country needs a President who would be willing to listen to people to work with democrats, indipendants and republicans.

    Let us be untited to work together for a better Nation; enough of calling names and negative attacks, harsh words, calling a private citizen associated with terrorists, socialist and what next ? (this is not the way to built our econmoy to the 21 centurey)?

    October 21, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  22. chuck

    The real topic of discussion is how Obama OUTSMARTED John McCain in Campaign funding. McCain went for a more conservative funding and Obama Choose PUBLIC FUNDING. Which one was SMARTER ?----Barack Obama.---SO stop crying Mr. McCain about spending ,you choose the path to DESTRUCTION.

    October 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  23. Rae

    I am scared of what's happening in America The mcain palin campaign is nasty and rascist to say the least And why Joe the plumber is mentioned by mccain he is trying to get away from his personal wealth issues.
    I thought america has turned the page on race and was a example for the rest of the world But it seems that mcain and palin are showing us the opposite. as a white male I will vote for Obama he looks sounds and is a statesmen. and thinks before he acts Mr mcain must take note of that As for rock star palin heaven help us

    October 21, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  24. Gilby-HI

    Sen. Chris Dodd , now under investigation- Wobble Wobble

    October 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  25. barbara m

    I am noticing that there is WAY TOO MUCH coverage of Sarah Palin and John McCain. We always see, at the end of the piece, a little coverage of Obama and Biden. Please, balance this out.

    And BTW, is it possible that John McCain is ineligible to run? His birth certificate shows he was born in Colon, Republic of Panama, and is not a natural born citizen.

    Check it out.

    October 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  26. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Oh, if the Republicans were smart they would be lieing about the polls the other way, saying Obama has a 9% lead would get out more Red voters and less Blue!?

    October 21, 2008 at 12:40 pm |
  27. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Can I suggest a SIMPLE solution to these voting machines, and their unreliability!!!!??? (They can be programmed to MAKE a candidate win.)
    Have bipartisan committees put a 100 TEST ballots in for each candidate and see if the Totals for each go up by 100!!!!

    October 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  28. Rich B - Knoxville

    Sounds like Drudge likes to find facts to fit the theory - Kinda like McCain - And Palin - Not to worry someone will tell her tomorrow what John has planned today - When they read it to her in the paper --You Betcha -

    October 21, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  29. Cindy

    Any poll can be made to look however you want it to to fit your agenda. The real truth is that no one is honest when they take these polls. They tell the pollster what they want to hear. Then when they get into the voting booth they vote according to their beliefs even if they aren't PC enough because no one will ever know and they can't be ridiculed by anyone. So polls mean nothing!

    Dems always screw things up and this will be no different.


    October 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm |