Polls show Obama and McCain in more or less of a dead heat. McCain supporters draw encouragement from this. They shouldn't.
McCain is a known commodity, but he's still bumping up against a 45% ceiling. 45% for a guy everyone knows, and most of us like and admire, who clinched his nomination a political age ago? No one has been attacking McCain. He's been linked to loony preachers but with far less effect than Obama. Hillary has positively gushed over McCain.
McCain began his race as the presumptive favorite. He faced opposition from a series of never-very-convincing candidates -- Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani and Thompson (remember him?) McCain's campaign was bankrupted, almost wiped out, struggled on and finally won. Against Mike Huckabee. Yes, John McCain, war hero, Senator, maverick, household name, endearing wit, prevailed against a man who believes Adam named the first dinosaur.
Obama began his race as a guy whose time was nowhere near. He was only in it, we were assured by the pundits, to set himself up as Veep or to lay claim to the governorship of Illinois or the White House in 2012. Hillary was going to win. There was no question in anyone's mind, certainly not hers.
McCain fought pygmies and barely won. Obama fought the Balrog and won weeks ago. And yet Obama, the black guy with the weird name who's been shithammered incessantly by those two prodigies of shithammering, Bill and Hillary, is up by a couple of points over McCain. Even though Hillary's voters are bitter and threatening not to come home.
Obama has more money. Superior political skills. A giant-killer campaign machine. Multitudes of volunteers. A great personal narrative. The flattering spotlight of history. And he does not have George W. Bush hanging around his neck.
Given what we've all just endured (and endured, and endured) McCain should be up by 5 points. The fact that he's trapped at 45% and tends to run two points behind Obama is a very bad omen for the GOP.