Obama, Underdog?


Andrew Romano talks to Tom Holbrook, convention bounce sage:

If Obama does get a nice big bump and ends up ahead by six points or so, obviously that's good for his campaign. While it doesn't necessarily predict that he's going to win, it does says that he was undervalued going into the convention and that the ship's finally been righted. The real danger, though, is the "no bump" scenario. Given that the race is relatively tight now, if Obama doesn't get a big bump out of this convention, I think that will say something about how hard it's going to be for him to increase his lead in the polls. If he can't do it substantially over a four-day period when it's all his show, then I think his campaign should be worried about the months ahead.

I'm not sure any of this is worth guessing or anticipating. I do have one observation about the campaign so far, though. Obama's candidacy makes the most sense as an insurgency. The point of his campaign is change - change from the last eight years and from the way Washington plays politics in the Morris-Rove era. When he became the front-runner, got anointed as the establishment candidate, this point got blurred. The worst thing to have happened to him is this premature ascendancy. He actually needs a period when he's behind to get out of this dynamic.

Otherwise, McCain becomes the insurgent change-agent against the prematurely anointed one. (Al Giordano's related thoughts are here.)

That's why the Bayh pick, if that's what it turns out to be, could be a very shrewd idea. It creates a Clinton-Gore 1992 dynamic in which a young duo - visually different - somehow amplify the themes of newness and generational change. Against McCain, the theme of generational change is essential to the Obama message. The themes write themselves: change, not more of the same. And: It's the economy, stupid.

(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.)