MORNING READ

John McCain has a rough road ahead, according to members of his own party and liberal bloggers. Barack Obama deserves more scrutiny for his ties to lobbyists, a group he has railed against during the campaign, conservative bloggers write. And Democrats in Congress have yet to achieve the earmark reform they talk about and may have a tough time retaining one House freshman's seat, pro-Republican bloggers note.

McCain has yet to make ground with his "reformer" and "maverick" labels, which he'll need to do if he wants to overcome the organization and enthusiasm driving Obama's presidential bid, according to GOP insiders who talk to the Huffington Post's Thomas B. Edsall. McCain's general election campaign has been "schizophrenic," going from outreach to independents, a pledge to appoint conservative judges and a recent decision to co-opt Obama's message of change, writes MyDD's J Ro. A poll shows that McCain is only getting 48 percent of voters in South Carolina, a state that President Bush won with 58 percent, notes MyDD's Jonathan Singer.

Obama's problems with conservative bloggers stem from his lobbyist ties. While he says he won't accept their contributions, he takes money from former lobbyists, unregistered members of lobbyist firms and lobbyists registered at the state level, notes Pejman Yousefzadeh at RedState. A top member of his running mate selection team, Jim Johnson, has not only served as a lobbyist but has taken approximately $7 million in loans from Countrywide Financial, the mortgage firm blamed for much of the subprime housing mess, RedState's Soren Dayton charges.

Like Obama, Congressional Democrats have also talked about increasing government transparency. But they've yet to make much headway, as shown by the more than 28,000 earmark requests that crashed a House committee Web site, cites The Corner's Mark Hemingway. And in a year when everything seems to be working against them, House Republicans can find hope in a new poll that has freshman Democratic Rep. Zack Space behind his GOP challenger Fred Dailey, 32 percent to 46 percent, Dayton writes at The Next Right.

FROM THE BLOGS:
GOP Insiders Worry About McCain - T. Edsall, Huffington Post
McCain Can't Crack 50 Percent In S.C. - Jonathan Singer, MyDD
McCain's Vision Thing - J Ro, MyDD
Obama: Still Friendly To Lobbyists - Pejman Yousefzadeh, RedState
SEIU: Things To Fear In Obama Presidency - Dayton, Next Right
Obama's Johnson: Lobbyist, Mortgage Exec - Dayton, RedState
Memo To President Obama - Jared Bernstein, Huffington Post
Stop Attacking My.BarackObama.com - P. Ruffini, Next Right
Trivial Matter Of Whether War Was Mistake - J. Cohn, The Plank
Bipartisan Agreement On NYC Debate - Josh Marshall, TPM
CNN Climbing Out Of Obama Tank - Ed Morrissey, Hot Air
War Injuries? What War Injuries? - Mark Hemingway, The Corner
Reid's & Pelosi's Fiscal Reforms - M. Hemingway, The Corner
Rep. Space Down By Double Digits - Soren Dayton, The Next Right

OTHER NEWS SOURCES:
Voters Rank Economy As Election's No. 1 Issue - Wall Street Journal
John McCain's Ohio Disconnect - Los Angeles Times
McCain Extends Outreach, But Evangelicals Still Wary - New York Times
Senate Votes To Privatize Its Failing Restaurants - Washington Post