It's been nearly two months since I wrote this post in which I invoked the whole "rope-a-dope" analogy that managed to raise the ire of Brad at Sadly, No! I think my invocation of this boxing analogy has turned out to be wrong, however. While initially it seemed to be true - especially as Obama came out with three pretty hard-hitting ads in a row even supporters started to twitch a tad as McCain managed to erase Obama's early lead.
What I believe Obama has done is take Rove's strategy of using an opponents strengths against them to a new level. Coming from a background in Chicago politics, where connection with people on the ground is most important, the campaign has focused its resources on voter registration, GOTV, and contact with local folks. McCain, on the other hand, has relied from the start on his connections with traditionally Republican political operatives, and his well-known and much-discussed connection with national media figures. There was some speculation in the immediate aftermath of the Republican National Convention, as McCain took the lead, and seemed to widen it even as his campaign produced one deceitful ad after another with little response from the Obama camp, that Obama was going to be a Michael Dukakis, running a principled, yet ultimately failing, campaign. Yet, I think Obama understood something that most people didn't. The combination of a campaign staff wedded to a strategy of deceit combined with a national press corps who believed McCain a principled politician would, in the end, create the kind of cognitive dissonance that would either end the strategy of deceit or end the love-affair of the press and pundits for McCain. The pundits, it seems, refuse to go along with McCain's campaign of constant lies. While hardly in the tank for Obama, much of their campaign commentary concerns how betrayed they feel by McCain's reliance on outright falsehoods as an attempt to turn the public against Obama.
In the end, the combination of a network of local offices connecting with people on the ground and a press corps turning on McCain for his blatantly false campaign against Sen. Obama (not to mention McCain's erratic behavior in the face of the financial meltdown and the selection of the supremely unqualified Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate) have all played out to push Obama's numbers higher, even as McCain's continue to slip.
I doubt very highly that Obama is resting on his laurels, or satisfied with the way the race is going. He is experienced enough to understand that the race is not over until November 6, at which time the focus will shift. I believe he is in this to win, and win big. I believe he will.