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The Rundown

1 p.m. ET: For your lunchtime reading pleasure, we offer this "all-Palin's-shopping-spree" edition of The Rundown.

We provide this service not because this is the most important or informative story of the day -- for that, go read Robert Draper's fascinating McCain campaign story in the NYT Magazine -- but rather because reactions to the Palin news have been both entertaining and telling, particularly as a window into the growing frustration of Republicans who feel they just can't catch a break.

First, some perspective. Palin reportedly spent about $150,000 on clothes and accessories. As Marc Ambinder points out, "That's one good week of television time in Colorado." (UPDATE: This is actually not a useful comparison. For the week of Sept. 28, for example, McCain spent $800,000 on ads in Colorado, and Obama spent $980,000. A smaller state like Iowa or New Mexico would have been better comparative fodder. Apologies.)

Ambinder also reports that he's hearing from plenty of angry Republicans, who are astounded both at the seeming wastefulness of the spending and of the embarassing, off-message storyline it has spawned.

But there has been little-to-no wailing or gnashing of teeth on conservative blogs like The Corner or Red State. There have been complaints on the right, not necessarily about the Palin shopping story but rather about media coverage of her overall, that everything the Republican No. 2 does is scrutinized by the press while Joe Biden can make his "Obama will be tested" remark and get off relatively scot-free.

The liberal blogosphere, not surprisingly, is really enjoying Saks-gate (yes, The Rundown just made that up). And the LA Times has helpfully provided shots of Palin from before and after her selection as vice president, so you can judge her fashion sense (and vote on which version you prefer).

One last thought before we return to serious, non-entertaining news: Was the McCain campaign -- before the story broke -- really planning to donate all those clothes to charity? If the GOP had won on Nov. 4, wouldn't Palin have needed a power wardrobe to serve as vice president? Or did it not matter because Republicans thought the race was slipping away? Sometimes shopping can be therapeutic.

8 a.m. ET: The Rundown argued earlier this week that he saw no real evidence to support the case that the presidential race was -- as some stories have suggested in recent days -- "tightening" in John McCain's favor. And there's even less evidence for that contention this morning: Barack Obama is up 10 points in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, his biggest lead so far in that survey. Obama has an identical 10-point edge in the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby tracking survey, also the Democrat's largest lead yet recorded in that poll.

Numbers like that are what prompt election experts to kind of, sort of, maybe say the race is over, with the obvious caveats that anything could happen, etc. The generally cautious Charlie Cook comes close to pronouncing the contest done. "No candidate behind this far in the national polls, this late in the campaign has come back to win," he points out.

At risk of piling on, here's one more striking stat from a recent survey: The New York Times poll released yesterday showed just 36 percent of respondents viewing McCain favorably (to be fair, no other survey has pegged the number that low). Still, has anyone that unpopular at this point in the contest ever been elected president? It's too early in the morning to wake up the Gallup folks and find out, but we'll report the answer at a more civilized hour.

Why is McCain's rating so low? Blame it on October. In the new WSJ poll, 53 percent said what they had seen and heard "in the past couple of weeks" had given them a less favorable impression of McCain, while 28 percent said they had a more favorable impression. (Obama's numbers on that question are essentially flipped -- 48-29).

Maybe all the current poll numbers -- and really, the entire election -- are actually about the unpopularity of another man: President Bush. That may be why, as Mark Knoller points out (via Jonathan Martin), "Not once this year has President Bush appeared in public at a campaign rally for the Republican Party or any of its candidates.".

By Ben Pershing  |  October 22, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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COMMENTS

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I would venture to suggest the dip in McCain's favorability rating correlates to the campaigns decision to go negative and focus on divisive wedge words and issues.

I think many voters, hard-core base voters aside, are wary of more division at a time when it appears we need to pull together to get the country back on track.

Posted by: aha | October 22, 2008 10:16 AM

It's not mentioned here, I think Sarah Palin has become a HUGE anvil on McCain. I even think it's bigger than Bush, honestly, because he's so MIA right now. No one sees or hears from him, so he has very little impact on their vote. She does.

Posted by: TW | October 22, 2008 11:26 AM

Republican tinkle-down economics are sinking, er soaking, in.

Posted by: oldhonky | October 22, 2008 2:49 PM

It clearly takes a lot of lipstick and such to make this racist pig look good!!!

Posted by: Deb | October 22, 2008 3:26 PM

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