McCain's Deadliest Catch: Polls Say GOP In Deep Water

Two major daily tracking polls spell ominous news for the GOP.

One of my favorite reality shows, The Deadliest Catch, documents the dangers of Alaskan fisherman as they search for crab in the frosty and ferocious Bering Sea. It seems a perfect metaphor for the McCain candidacy now losing ground to Barack Obama after the Republican presidential candidate's reckless choice of a running mate in the obscure, social conservative Sarah Palin, Alaska's governor.

After Barack Obama's acceptance speech before more than 75,000 in a packed Denver football stadium -- and more than 38 million watching on television, the largest ever -- Obama opened his lead 49-41 percent over McCain in the most recent Gallup Poll daily tracking survey (ending Aug.28). For weeks, the two had been virtually tied at 45 percent.

Gallup reported that Obama's 8 percentage-point lead almost matches Obama's biggest margin of the campaign, a 9-point lead in tracking polls conducted July 24-26.

Hoping to blunt the Obama post-Democratic National Convention bump, McCain introduced his vice presidential pick -- on the very day McCain turned 72 -- to the bewilderment of news organizations waiting to cover the event live and to some of his own party leaders and professional pundits here and abroad.

Naturally, everyone was wondering what the hell McCain was doing.

Was he trying to recapture his 'maverick' reputation? Was he hoping to win over the Democratic and Independent women still angry Hillary didn't get the nomination? Was he attempting to solidify his base among social conservatives who never really believed McCain believed in their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-environmental philosophy? Was he displaying the risky behavior that won Tom Cruise's character the nickname "Maverick" in the movie, Top Gun?

Palin, self-described as "against abortions and for guns" displayed significant charm and retail political skill during her first glare in the national spot light as four of her five children and her professional fisherman and oilfield worker husband stood by her side. Unfortunately, she has little else to recommend that qualifies her to be "a heart beat" away from leading the most powerful country in the world. Recent polls agree.

About 40 percent of American polled said they consider Sarah Palin to be qualified to become president, according to a separate USA Today/Gallup poll taken on August 30 and that's the lowest level since Dan Quayle was chosen by the first President Bush as his running mate.

A full 30 percent didn't think Palin was qualified to become president compared to 57 percent who considered Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, to be ready for the job. Only 18 percent didn't think the Delaware senior senator couldn't handle the top job in the nation.

As far as grabbing disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters by choosing the first female Republican vice presidential candidate, don't think so.

Only 9 percent of the Democratic women polled said they were more likely to pull the Republican lever in November and 15 percent said they were less likely to back McCain. Twenty percent of all women said Palin on the GOP ticket would make them more likely to support McCain and 11 percent weren't buying the McCain-Palin ticket at all.

Name recognition for the obscure Alaska Governor, who is only twenty months into her first term? The Gallup/USA Today poll found that fully half of all those questioned had never heard of Palin prior to the McCain announcement.

In a similar finding, the Rasmussen Report tracking poll reported that 35 percent said Palin's selection made them more likely to vote for McCain while 33 percent said they were less likely to back the McCain-Palin duo.

Rasmussen found that Sen. Obama had also widened his lead 47-43 percent over McCain since Friday, the biggest margin in that poll since July. The poll also found that among undecided voters who say they are leaning toward one candidate or another, Obama leads 49-45 percent over McCain.

These numbers are just daily tracking polls but they must be worrisome to the McCain camp and the GOP coattails so necessary in the congressional races.

Palin will now be vetted by the national press and the blogosphere and it won't be pretty.

She's got 6 weeks to learn foreign and economic policy. The honeymoon will shortly end. She's been the mayor of a small town (7,000 population), a 'hockey' mom, a college athlete, a two-year TV sports announcer, beauty queen, mother of five. Friends in Alaska reported to me she's isn't all that bright but "she's not on the take." She is, however, currently under investigation. She wants the polar bear off the endangered species list and supports new drilling in Alaska. She's already flip flopped on the 'Bridge to Nowhere' and has supported earmarks consistently. She's no maverick and it's unlikely she is the kind of female candidate most Hillary Clinton supporters would find appealing.

Well, Captain McCain has chosen and it's a gutty risky choice equal to any adventure or misadventure in the Bering Sea. So, snuff out your cigarettes boys and slip into your winter gear and boots because this is going to be one hellacious ride to the November election.

This is the 'real' Deadliest Catch, only the prize isn't king crab or opilio crab. It's the White House.