Though Obama’s veep selection is imminent, he seems to be “Biden his time” (ha!) until later in the week to make the announcement. But with a slew of recent polls showing his lead against John McCain diminished or gone completely, some big news might be just what Obama needs. An LAT/Bloomberg poll has Obama up by just two points, while a Zogby poll released this morning shows McCain — yes, McCain — with a five-point lead. We’ve noted before how cyclic, ephemeral swings in the polls tend to send political observers into a frenzy. But these polls are part of a longer, more ominous trend for Obama. His momentum has vanished, the race has drawn to a dead heat, and Republicans are, maybe for the first time, showing some real optimism.
• Chuck Todd and friends contend that “there is no longer this widespread belief among the wise guys and gals of both parties that we’re all just sitting around waiting for this race to break in Obama’s direction.” The Obama campaign can’t afford to make mistakes, and the McCain campaign “thinks it can win,” which “wasn’t the case a few months ago.” [First Read/MSNBC]
• Nate Silver proclaims that “we are getting to the point where it would be hard to describe the election as anything other than ‘too close to call’” (and that was before the new Zogby poll). [FiveThirtyEight]
• Michael Goodwin speculates that the media’s “fawning coverage” of Obama, which the McCain campaign has highlighted with “The One,” its nickname for the Democrat, may have caused voter resentment. [NYDN]
• David Paul Kuhn notes that unlike the only other poll to show McCain with a lead, today’s Zogby poll “seems to follow a recent trend.” In fact, McCain is now ahead “for the first time” in the electoral college, according to RealClearPolitics. With all the developments in the next few weeks, “bounces in the polls may be both fleeting and difficult to measure” until “the second week of September.” [Politico]
• Michael Finnegan notes that Obama’s major “vulnerability” seems to be “the question of his readiness to lead the nation,” with less than half of voters saying Obama “has the ‘right’ experience to be president.” [LAT]
• Dean Barnett thinks “the rest of the country is beginning to discover” that “Obama doesn’t wear well.” His “potentially fatal lack of substance” may doom him, as could his “allergy to getting specific.” [Blog/Weekly Standard]
• Jennifer Rubin concurs with Barnett, writing that “the problem with emotion-laden, atmospheric, personality-driven campaigns is that once the magic ends, there isn’t much to fall back on.” The voters have caught on to that while the media has continued “cooing.” [Contentions/Commentary]
• Ed Morrissey says to take the Zogby poll “with a grain of salt,” but that “it shows the same motion as every other pollster.” Obama is in “free fall” and McCain “has voters wondering whether Obama is up to the task of running the presidency as his first executive job in politics.” [Hot Air]
• Rick Klein and friends say Obama is “having trouble driving a sustained message” and is “subsumed by his own veepstakes fog.” [The Note/ABC News]
• Jonathan Cohn, like many observers, thinks Obama needs to step up his attacks on McCain. Specifically, Obama should combine character hits on McCain (“$520 shoes, owns between seven and ten homes”) with issue contrasts that are framed to elicit an “emotional impact.” [Plank/New Republic]
• Josh Marshall wishes there was “some independent group out there” talking about how McCain is “pampered” and “changes his beliefs every few years.” [TPM]
• John Dickerson notices that recently Obama has, in fact, “made his attacks even sharper, emphasizing the link between McCain and Bush and portraying McCain as a poll-driven Washington insider out of touch with regular people.” [Slate]
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.