Obama's New Focus--not A Moment Too Soon

by The New Republic Staff, The New Republic Staff | October 3, 2007

I hate to keep harping on the same theme, but, to my mind, one of the most sobering developments for Obama in today's Washington Post poll is the following:
Despite rivals' efforts to portray her as too polarizing to win the general election, a clear majority of those surveyed, 57 percent, said Clinton is the Democratic candidate with the best chance on Nov. 4, 2008. The percentage saying Clinton has the best shot at winning is up 14 points since June. By contrast, 20 percent think Edwards is most electable and 16 percent think Obama is, numbers that represent a huge blow to the "electability" argument rivals have sought to use against her [emphasis added].
With all the usual caveats about the complications that race introduces, I think this demonstrates the futility of Obama's holding off on criticizing Hillary and trying to demonstrate his electability instead. Over the past several months, Obama has run a general-election, "we can all get along"-style primary campaign, and John Edwards has run a populist campaign that hits Hillary hard from the left, and yet voters still perceive Edwards as more electable than Obama (and by roughly the same margin as in the last Post poll in June). As I've said before, I think Obama has to make his move before the final weeks of the campaign, because if voters only start to have doubts about Hillary at that point, they're probably moving toward Edwards, not him. Of course, if yesterday's speech was any indication, he's beginning to do precisely that. So we'll see what happens... --Noam Scheiber

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