The Two Minute Drill

Football fans know all about the prevent defense. The saying goes that the only thing the prevent defense prevents is winning.

The other thing football fans know about trying to sit on a big lead is that very often offensive mastery you displayed while amassing a big lead vanish as the team attempts to run out the clock. Last year’s New England Patriots were often derided by opposing fans for running up the scores in their victories on the way to an 18-0 record before loosing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick knows all about the dangers of sitting on leads, and he deliberately stuck with his “pass early, pass often” offense in the face of occasional criticism and injured pride on the opposing bench to keep his team sharp and focused last season.

It’s probably worth noting that while ads for Obama are nearly omnipresent, he’s not been nearly as effective as he was in September and early October. McCain, on the other hand, has winnowed down the number of tangents his campaign was taking and focus on just a few key issues on the mind of the electorate, the economy, and Barrack Obama’s tax and spend plans. Obama’s team, from all appearances, seems to be attempting to cruise to victory – taking no chances, not wanting to make a mistake, and basically playing it safe.

McCain, perhaps due to circumstance or maybe by design has attempted to throw more “hail mary’s” in the closing weeks. They haven’t all been successful, but the successes are beginning to resonate in a way that only occurs when a strategy has time to grow from an idea into a meme.

For example, did you know that polling today show McCain more trusted than Obama on the economy? That’s what Rasmussen said yesterday. It’s fairly clear that the pounding on the “socialism” of Obama’s tax plans, the “spread the wealth” quote, Joe the Plumber, etc. has shifted the electorate on this issue.

The better news for McCain is that you can’t, as Obama will find out, just turn these things on and off; they need time to be planted and grow. For Obama it’s too late to bring a new issue to the table and make it stick. He may be able to retread something, but he’s essentially left with the message he’s put out to this point. That’s been good enough to this point, the real question is whether it can stand up against the steady erosion in his support and lead.

And by the way a group not associated with McCain, The National Republican Trust, will be running $6.5 million dollars of adds this weekend that rehash some of Obama’s major negatives. The Reverend Wright spot specifically is one that has a chance to resonate because it’s a retread reminder for voters, especially the 1 in 7 voters who pollsters say are still persuadable.

As Obama’s machine attempt to hold onto the ball and run out the clock, the naturally comfortable as underdog McCain campaign is throwing bombs.

Tuesday we will find out scored often enough to take the lead in the final minutes of the game.

Where's the cheese?
Zogby: McCain Takes Lead in One Day Polling