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Right Track

But here’s the other side of the finding that asking national mood questions can skew survey results in Obama’s favor. If the mere suggestion that the country might be on the wrong track is enough to send scores of independents into the Obama column, imagine what a concerted effort to frame the discourse that way might do. This is something that Hillary Clinton had started to tap into toward the end of the primary process. Screw hope — things are bad right now — and we need solutions.

Obama’s “change” message, by contrast, has oftentimes been a little bit too abstract. Here’s the messaging that Mssrs. Axelrod and Plouffe need to work on: Iraq’s fucked up, the economy’s fucked up, health care’s fucked up, the environment’s fucked up, and all John McCain can say is to “stay the course”. If that’s the mindset that voters take into the ballot booth with them in November, Obama will win quite convincingly.

It isn’t simply a matter of trying to frame McCain as the next Bush. That allows voters to let McCain off the hook if they conclude that McCain isn’t the next Bush, and McCain’s favorables are strong enough that many voters won’t bite on that one. Rather, it’s a matter of trying to portray McCain as being out of touch because he doesn’t recognize that these things like health care are problems when 70 or 80 percent of the country does.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.