Trail Mix

Weakening economy puts campaigns back on track

been taken off of her experience and potential ethics issues. “The polls show the Republicans got their bounce and now that it’s coming back to normal, people are asking some very important questions about her foreign policy experience. Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel came out Thursday saying she doesn’t have the foreign-policy experience to be president,” says Larry Berman, a UC Davis political scientist.

Palin continues to be enormously popular, however-far more so than the man at the top of the ticket. At one campaign event this week, it was reported that several voters began leaving after her speech, not bothering to hear what McCain had to say. But Democratic strategist Julian Epstein thinks her star will soon fade. “I think there was a Palin mania and she was for Americans a great first date, but I’m not sure that people have decided they want a long-term relationship.”

Berman disagrees. “McCain had to do something to shake up the race. I believe Republicans closed their eyes and see Palin in four or eight years as a woman leader getting experience as vice president and totally reenergizing and redefining the base, bringing in independents and middle-of-the-road women as well.”

After slipping in the polls during the past couple of weeks which shivers of worry through the veins of his party’s faithful, Obama took a much more aggressive tone this week in his criticism of McCain and responding to Republican attacks. This election, Berman has observed, is in some ways much like the stock market. “The candidates will have good and bad days and there are going to be surges one way or the other,” he says. “I see this as a very, very close election right through to the end unless the debates turn out to be a determining factor, which we don’t know yet.”

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