I was thinking earlier today about how Sen. McCain stacks up against Sen. Obama, specifically with respect to Obama's decision to brand himself as the candidate of change. Listening to the Michael Medved radio show a few hours ago came close to preempting my post, for Medved cited recent polls that show McCain with outside-the-margin leads against Clinton or Obama.
I think it has to do with the comparison I had contemplated. Obama has ridden a wave of popularity by portraying himself as the candidate of change. He has little else to run on to distinguish himself from other candidates other than the fact that he expresses himself very well in speeches and seems generally very likable.
McCain, however, has the leftover "maverick" label and a legislative history of bucking the parties to find a middle ground. McCain has the ability to make a plausible grasp for the mantle of the "change" candidate. It's fair to point out that McCain's statements of policy paint him as a conservative, but Obama is no different in that respect*. And McCain has one advantage over Obama that makes up for the fact that he's not as likable: People are likely to have trust in McCain regarding his willingness to find a middle ground between the parties, and they'll trust him on national security.
Trust is always an issue with Democratic candidates during an election and 2008 should prove no different. Perhaps Obama can erode the McCain advantage with glitz, but he has an uphill climb because his record can't support his claim.
Not that I've abandoned the expectation that Sen. Clinton will win the nomination. But Clinton will have to play the game better than she has played it for the past four weeks.
*with Obama's policies correspondingly liberal