(DURYEA, PA.) - Barack Obama's campaign turned to the general election campaign wary, but still confident of victory in November.
Aides to the Illinois Democrat took in John McCain's speech to the Republican convention last night and said they were "underwhelmed" by it. Voters polled by Democrats had what was described as a "flat" reaction to it.
Specifically, they found a disconnection between McCain's appeal for an end to partisan sniping that came at the end of a week's worth of "unalloyed partisan carpet bombing."
"He wants to get past all that," asked an incredulous Democrat.
The Republican campaign, said this aide, resembled a game of "twister," with so many contortionist moves to contemplate. Among them:
--Squaring Sarah Palin's obvious - but perhaps narrow - appeal to conservatives with McCain's desperate need to convert moderates and independents to his side.
--overcoming McCain's record involving 90 percent support for Bush administration policies, even as the Republican presidential nominee seeks to separate him from an unpopular incumbent.
These Democratic strategists see pluses and minuses to Palin. Yes, she can energize the Republican base, but there is a sense that more political landmines may be buried in her past. The Democrats appear unwilling to make much of an issue of her gubernatorial record, believing the news media will do the digging for them.
"She is not well known," said one Democratic analyst, "people don't know her record."
The issues seem to be lining up in Obama's favor. Friday's reported rise in joblessness fit hand-in-glove with his call for change and his view that the Republicans offered no cures at their convention.
Obama enjoys a financial advantage too, though no one expects McCain to be cash-starved this fall. Independent groups and the republican national committee will attempt to even the money scales.
But Obama has serious problems of his own to be sure.
His scant record of accomplishment, together with his experience are grist for Republicans, and yes, there is the matter of his race. It is a wildcard this year, making polling more difficult and the results of those polls tougher to interpret.
But Obama has what his aides believe to be a big advantage that McCain cannot overcome: enthusiasm.
And enthusiasm can be a big help in registering voters. Registering voters can be a big help in putting new states into play this fall. And putting new states into play this fall could help Obama get elected.
That's why he's going to Indiana on Saturday. Indiana has not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.