As the Sunday NY Times details, strategist Steve Schmidt has turned around the McCain campaign with brilliant advertising that sets the news agenda and primes voter evaluations. The former Rove deputy also was a key figure in the selection of Sarah Palin. His genius continues with the latest ad released yesterday, a focus on McCain and Palin as the "original mavericks."

In pitting McCain and Palin as reformers running against a Washington that their party controls, the strategy adds up to powerful subterfuge and sleight of hand, a message forcefield that the Obama team has yet to crack. As the resulting polls reflect, if this keeps up, things are not looking good for Obama come November.

UPDATE: In a sign of good things to come, the Obama campaign hits back immediately with a response ad to the "original mavericks." See below.