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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Rush Limbaugh, citing the recent AP/Ipsos numbers, puts “Operation Chaos” on hold.

I was wondering whether we might see something like this. A very recent Rasmussen poll revealed that Republicans are now almost evenly divided on the question of whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would be the stronger opponent against John McCain.

Democrats, however, still believe Obama to be more electable by a 51-37 margin. On the one hand, I tend to think that looking yourself in the mirror is the hardest thing: if Republicans have concluded that Obama has taken enough hits that he’s now essentially equal to Clinton in electability, that might really tell us something. On the other hand, the media, and particularly the right-wing media, has had its sights squarely trained on Obama for about six weeks now. If Limbaugh hadn’t suspended Operation Chaos, then he would be admitting, in a sense, to his own impotence in shaping public opinion.

The media narrative, however, appears as though it might shift back toward Barack Obama after his well-received disavowal of Jeremiah Wright today. While predicting shifts in public sentiment is extremely difficult — predicting shifts in media sentiment tends to be very simple. Obama’s remarks today give him a pivot point, one that otherwise might have been hard to come by given the lack of major public events between now and Indiana. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that this could all turn out to be a net positive for Barack Obama — but it might be the closest approximation of ‘good’ news that he was going to be able to get between now and the next primaries. If his campaign can follow this up with a big endorsement within the next 24-48 hours, it could create the sense of real momentum.

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