Perhaps the most astute analysis I've heard of the Presidential campaign came over the weekend from a caller on Michael Feldman's radio quiz/variety show, Whad'yaKnow . The caller, who claimed to be undecided, likened his voting choice to the decision whether to buy a PC or a Mac, which he had recently faced. He then explained that if you ask a Mac owner why to buy a Mac, he'll tell you all the things he likes about a Mac, but if you ask a PC owner why to buy a PC, he'll tell you everything that's wrong with a Mac. The caller then said he had bought a Mac.
This analysis jibes with the most recent polls showing that McCain's having gone negative hurt him more than it hurt Obama. How do we reconcile that with the conventional wisdom that while voters say they don't like negative campaigning, it works? Here I think the key is that the attacks were both coming from too close to the McCain campaign (i.e., from Gov Palin) and they were not even arguably about policy. Saying Obama's tax plan will hurt economic growth is one thing; saying that he "pals around with terrorists" was never likely to work (unless it were true, which it obviously isn't).
Posted by Mike Dorf