From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carrie Dann
*** We're back to August? This presidential contest has certainly been a roller-coaster ride. And as we suggested yesterday, something in the race turned this week. Two new national polls now show Obama with single-digit leads over McCain -- about where the race was before the conventions. The reason why Obama's up: women. According to the latest New York Times/CBS survey, Obama is ahead overall by five points (48%-43%); a week ago after the GOP convention, CBS had McCain up two points overall (46%-44%) and five points among women (47%-42%). But in the latest poll, Obama once again has the advantage with female voters (54%-38%). The same holds true in a new national Quinnipiac survey, which finds Obama with a four-point lead over McCain (49%-45%) and a 14-point edge among women (54%-40%). Every poll out this week -- whether by a good pollster or a mediocre one -- has shown the same trend: movement towards Obama. It's hard to ignore and one can sense the conventional wisdom shifting again. We have literally lived the adage this week: seven days is a lifetime in politics. If we really back to the pre-convention numbers, this is not a good development for McCain going into the debates. He needed the tie to hold until the debates. The last thing he needs is for the debates to be another moment where he has to catch up rather than solidify his lead. Because after the debates, there really are no more chances to move the race.
*** Update on the "Palin Effect": Has Palin's luster worn off? Has the bubble popped? The New York Times on its survey: "The poll also underlined the extent to which Mr. McCain's convention, and his selection of Ms. Palin, had excited Republican base voters about his candidacy, which is no small thing in a contest that continues to be so tight: 47 percent of Mr. McCain's supporters described themselves as enthused about the Republican Party's presidential ticket, almost twice what it was before the conventions… But the Times/CBS News poll suggested that Ms. Palin's selection has, to date, helped Mr. McCain only among Republican base voters; there was no evidence of significantly increased support for him among women in general. White women were evenly divided between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama; before the conventions, Mr. McCain led Mr. Obama among white women, 44 percent to 37 percent. By contrast, at this point in the 2004 campaign, President Bush was leading Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic challenger, by 56 percent to 37 percent among white women." And don't miss Karl Rove calling her a "political pick."
Video: Hackers have broken into Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.
*** Fools rush in: Over the past week, independent analysts and news organizations have criticized -- deservedly so -- the falsehoods and misleading statements from McCain's TV ads and remarks on the stump. But now the Obama campaign has unveiled a whopper of its own by comparing McCain to Rush Limbaugh in a new Spanish-language ad on immigration. "They want us to forget the insults we've put up with, the intolerance," the ad's announcer says, per the Washington Post. Then a picture of Limbaugh appears onscreen with quotes of him saying, "Mexicans are stupid and unqualified" and "Shut your mouth or get out." The narrator continues, "John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote and another, even worse, that continues the failed policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families." The big problem with this ad: McCain and Limbaugh don't agree on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. It's a pretty low blow, particularly since McCain did see his campaign nearly die because of his support for immigration and the attacks he was receiving on the right from Limbaugh and other talk radio conservatives. Then again, the McCain camp and RNC are airing radio ads blaming Obama for scuttling comprehensive immigration reform because he backed "poison pill" amendments. But that's not true, either: The GOP base killed immigration reform, not some amendments that immigration advocates also supported.
*** The new Mr. Negative: But -- in a bit of a CW shocker -- it's certainly true that Obama has gone negative more than McCain since the GOP convention, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project: 77% of Obama's commercials were negative, compared with 56% of McCain's. After McCain's poll numbers shot up after the GOP convention, the Obama campaign and the DNC fired the heavy artillery at McCain. These percentages are the result of that. And perhaps so is the new state of this race. Could it be that negative ads work?
*** Just wonderin': Where has Congress been during the financial mess on Wall Street? Bush, too? Everything, it seems, is being left to a former Goldman Sachs guy, Hank Paulson, as well as Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. Congress has literally been on the sidelines, despite the fact that it's in session.
*** Stat of the day: 500,000 new voters have registered in Indiana since the beginning of the year?!?! That is amazing and explains why McCain can't get the state off the battleground map.
*** On the trail: McCain and Palin campaign together in Cedar Rapids, IA (around noon ET) and then in Green Bay, WI (around 8:00 pm ET). Obama stumps in New Mexico, hitting Española and Albuquerque. Biden remains in Ohio, visiting Canton (at the Pro Football Hall of Fame!), Akron, and Youngstown. And Michelle Obama, in North Carolina, attends a women's economic roundtable in Charlotte and then a "Women for Obama" rally in Greensboro.
Countdown to the first presidential debate: 8 days
Countdown to the vice presidential debate: 16 days
Countdown to the second presidential debate 19 days
Countdown to the third presidential debate: 27 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 47 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 124 days
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