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The McCain Victory Scenario



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I have no special knowledge of Pennsylvania politics, but it seems very unlikely that McCain can win there. Maybe internal polls show it differently, but Obama leads by 8-15 points in the latest state polls according to RCP. The more viable scenario would appear to be holding the states Bush won both in 2000 and 2004. This is difficult and leaves no margin for error, but not impossible. In polling from the last two days, McCain is ahead by 1 or behind by 1 in Florida; he’s behind by 2 in Virginia; he’s behind by 3, by 1, or tied in North Carolina; he’s tied in Nevada. If McCain can close the national gap with Obama, it’s possible that all these kind of red states could narrowly fall his way. That would leave Colorado as perhaps the hardest-to-get red state and potentially the pivot of the election. A poll yesterday had McCain behind by 5 there, suggesting it’s a tough nut to crack but not utterly out of reach. I’d be inclined to pour it on in Colorado rather than Pennsylvania, and attempt to thread the red-state electoral needle.

UPDATE

An e-mail:

McCain has made modest improvement in the battlegrounds in the last week (using RCP averages from 10/15 vs. today).  Nothing major, and not as much as would be ideal, but certainly positive trends:

 

Pts McCain Trailing by:

State:

15-Oct

Today

% Chng

FL

4.8

1.5

(3.3)

68.8%

VA

8.1

6.8

(1.3)

16.0%

MO

1.8

2.7

0.9

(50.0%)

NV

3.0

2.3

(0.7)

23.3%

NC

1.2

1.5

0.3

(25.0%)

OH

3.4

2.8

(0.6)

17.6%

PA

14.0

11.4

(2.6)

18.6%

CO

5.8

5.4

(0.4)

6.9%

Average

5.3

4.3

(1.0)

9.5%

Without PA

4.0

3.3

(0.7)

8.2%

E-mail from a friend:

Rich,

I don’t think McCain can win, but you’re wrong about Pennsylvania…he has to work to take a Kerry state to guard against the loss of Ohio or Florida. Making Obama do work to keep Pennsylvania is smart; polls always undercount less urban parts of urban states, and the weakness of Kanjorski and Murtha is an indication that there may be a weird Republican wave in that part of the state…

If I were Obama, by the way, I’d wonder why I’ve spent 25 million or whatever on Virginia and Mason-Dixon has it a 2 point race.

Plus other e-mails:

 –McCain is not going to get near Bush’s numbers among Hispanics in 2004, which is a big problem in NV and CO.  As for why he’s pouring resources into PA, it’s to fire up the Republican base by leading them to believe he’s competitive in blue states.  If he pulled out of WI, MN, PA, etc., early voting would be deflated and the party would be demoralized.

–I’m not so sure where McCain/Palin campaign matters as much as you suggest.  If they can move their total nationwide support their direction, the states will follow.  In parliamentary countries, analysts have learned that the higher your overall percentage of support, the more constituencies that tend your direction.  All this surgical state-by-state analysis is a little too wonkish.  McCain should campaign in every state that is close, even if he is going to lose some.  His primary goal should be to lift his overall support nationally.



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