All of which is worth keeping in mind when you hear people predicting that Obama's election is the beginning of a lasting political realignment. That's possible. But it's far from inevitable. McCain, after all, was ahead during the first two weeks of September. Some may dismiss this as an ephemeral reaction to the two-party conventions and as a lead that could not be sustained. That may be right: We have no way of knowing for sure what would have happened in the absence of the financial crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers September 15. But the APYahoo polls suggest that opinion was volatile and that in different circumstances the McCain lead might have endured. And that Obama's impressive 53 percent-46 percent lead should not be regarded as etched in stone. Voters this year, more than in 2000 or 2004, seemed to be willing to switch their votes in response to events. And it suggests that they may be willing to switch again--toward the Democrats or toward the Republicans--in the months and years ahead.
By Michael Barone