Despite Obama's recent jog to the center, enthusiasm for the candidate remains high. Though the halo has slipped a bit in the past couple weeks or so, Obama's rock star status remains largely undiminished. This is particularly in evidence here in Alabama, a state McCain will likely win handily. The GOP margin of victory may be less then ten percent, the closest it has been since 1976, which was the last time this state went blue and handed its electoral college votes to Jimmy Carter.
I live in a middle class suburb of the largest city in the state, Birmingham, and the contrasts between the last election and this one are extremely marketed. This is an area of the country which bought wholesale into the Rovian smear that John Kerry was little more than a flip-flopper and sold wholly into the now infamous 527 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad.
Or to put it another way, this time four years ago, this solidly red state was blanketed with those-always obnoxious, now ubiquitous "W" stickers that spawned a thousand copy-cats and parodies. Kerry bumper stickers were evident also, but they remained vastly in the minority. Now, four years later, in the closing months until this year's election, I have seen approximately one McCain bumper sticker, one McCain yard sign, and more than a few open displays of Obama support adorning the backs of cars and lawns.
The message is clear. I reiterate--though McCain will likely win this state easily, the enthusiasm for McCain is decidedly less than. Now the rank-and-file Republican voter gets the chance to feel the same kind of ho-hum, the same kind of lack of passion that long-suffering Democratic voters have felt the last three election cycles at minimum.
To muse upon a related, though different issue, I have to say that I'm not surprised that Obama's glow has been muted a bit in recent days. This election cycle has simply gone on too long. What was a desire to expedite the end of the second Bush term has now become an endurance test. Frankly, I've long since grown weary and if I could move up Election Day the same way certain states moved up their primaries, I'd gladly do it. Perhaps I'm not alone in wishing that this could just be over.
But back to Obama's recent rightward course and the media backlash created by it, this sort of second-guessing would not have transpired until after the first 100 days of a brand new Presidential administration. The fatigue felt by all of us, politicos, amateur policy wonks, and voters alike is telling. If the election were held today, Obama would sleepwalk his way into the White House with a narrow, but nonetheless sufficient margin of victory in the Electoral College.