McCAIN’S MOMENTUM….Theda Skocpol thinks that Barack Obama needs to get his act together:
Although Obama seems to be “up” in current national polls, McCain is actually doing a much better job of shaping the agenda to his advantage. He has used strong symbols (it does not matter if they are “gimmicks”) to portray himself as activist on gas prices and the environment and put apparent distance between himself and Bush. And he has managed to paint Obama as an ordinary schemer on campaign finance. Abetted by the media’s proclivity for dramatic gestures and horse race analysis, the McCain camp has done what it needs to portray their man as a fighting underdog focused on real-world issues. Meanwhile, Obama’s “economic tour” has gone little noticed — and his campaign seems not to understand how very difficult it will be to get the media to convey the economic stakes in this election to ordinary voters.
The rest is worth reading, even though I think she’s probably overreacting to the fact that Obama is just in a different phase of his campaign than McCain. Having just won his primary, he needs to spend time consolidating his victory, unifying the base, and getting some unpopular decisions (like opting out of public financing) out of the way now. Sure, he’s giving up some momentum to McCain, but it’s better to do it now than later.