Diary

Panic Time

Well, that didn’t take long:

Democrats are beginning to worry about losing the presidential election.

After months of leading in voter enthusiasm, fundraising and most surveys, Barack Obama lost momentum to John McCain after the Republican convention last week. McCain has gotten a boost from his pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and has surged ahead of Obama in some national polls, while running even in others.

Arizona Senator McCain, 72, is drawing larger crowds to his rallies than ever before. Illinois Senator Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, may struggle to keep up the record fundraising pace it has maintained all year.

The campaign’s “novelty has worn off,” said Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat. The Obama campaign “seems to have lost its speed, its response time.”

Republicans used their St. Paul, Minnesota, convention to focus attention on McCain’s personal character and leadership qualities, and highlight his independence from President George W. Bush. The message was reinforced by the selection of Palin, who was presented as a reformer who fought oil companies and took on her party in Alaska.

For the record, I still think that Obama is more likely than not to win. But McCain has certainly given me cause to wonder anew about my predictions. Who would have thought that early September, 2008 would be remembered as the Late Summer of Democratic Discontent?