Undecided should break for McCain
The history of the primary campaign was that the undecided broke against Obama. I suspect that will happen now. Undecideds tend to not like either candidate. The real danger for McCain is that they will not vote at all. That is why, it is wise for McCain to continue to drive up Obama's negatives, so that people will vote against him.
If current survey trends continue, Obama will finish with less than 50 percent in the polls. Even discounting the Nader vote (some people never learn), the undecided voters could tip the race either way. How will they break?
Since there is no incumbent, they cannot automatically be assigned to the challenger; and since turnout is likely to be huge, the current undecided voters will probably make their way to the polls and cast their ballots.
But for whom?
At the beginning of this contest, Obama effectively made the case that the election was a referendum on Bush's performance in office. Painting a vote for McCain as a desire for "four more years of the same failed policies," he made the most of Bush's dismal approval rating. Had he been able to keep the focus on Bush, he would likely have inherited most of the undecided vote.
But as Obama surged into a more or less permanent lead in October, animated by the financial crisis, he has assumed many of the characteristics of an incumbent. Every voter asks himself one question before he or she casts a ballot: Do I want to vote for Obama? His uniqueness, charisma and assertive program have so dominated the dialogue that the election is now a referendum on Obama.
As Obama has oscillated, moving somewhat above or somewhat below 50 percent in all the October polls, his election likely hangs in the balance. If he falls short of 50 percent in these circumstances, a majority of the voters can be said to have rejected him. Likely a disproportionate number of the undecideds will vote for McCain.
Clearly, in recent weeks, McCain has been able to cast Obama as a leftist. He has made the issue of income redistribution central to the campaign. With the aid of Joe the Plumber and the discovery of Obama's Chicago PBS interview, in which he lamented the absence of redistribution of wealth, McCain has made the proposition seem central to Obama's ideology. The unprecedented power the bailout has given government over the banking industry raises the real specter of socialism in America. The banks have, effectively, been nationalized. How will government use its power over them? This new reality, coupled with Obama's professed pursuit of "social and political justice" through "redistribution of the wealth," is enough to send a shiver down the spine of those who embrace the free market as the key to economic growth.