Assuming McCain is unable to flip New Hampshire or Pennsylvania to the red column (more likely than not that he won't), and also assuming that Sen. Obama flips Iowa and New Mexico from red to blue (also, more likely than not, with the latter almost a slam dunk), the Pope of Hope need only flip one more red state to the Democratic column. Unfortunately for the Senior Senator, there exist a group of 7 or 8 swing states -- Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and even Indiana -- in which he must play defense.
Colorado and Virginia are the two most likely scenarios for the Hopemonger to pick off must-win states, as his lead has stabilized at around five points in each. The Changemaker has routinely enjoyed leads within the margin of error in Ohio and Nevada. Florida and Missouri appear to be toss-ups. North Carolina, mercifully, is trending back McCain's way, and it appears that he'll also hold onto Indiana.
That's still a pretty bleak outlook.
It's clear that McCain's economic message is working, as his five-point deficit in national tracking polls is better than the 8- or 9-point deficit he was in before the third debate. But he's still never convincingly explained why it is that Obama's tax plan would be so disastrous: It's because businesses -- no matter what their size -- will always look to recoup the profits lost from higher tax rates. And it's also inevitable that these profits will be made up by these businesses cutting jobs. Additionally, McCain hasn't dealt with the fallacy of giving people who don't pay any income tax whatsoever a tax cut.
Is the race over? Of course not. As a rule, state polling tends to lag behind national numbers, and the margin within which McCain has closed the gap since the last major shift in polling data toward Obama is at least encouraging. If McCain can continue to eat away at Obama's national lead -- a likely prospect, since the "Joe the plumber" message is clearly resonating -- Nov. 4 could be a long night.
McCain's problem is that he needs to win too many states (specifically, Colorado, Virginia and Nevada) in rapidly changing areas of the country where he is too far behind.
Several conservative commentators have examined Obama's laughably thin and remarkably hyperpartisan record, come to grips with the state of the race, and asked, "Now what?" Some have likened Obama to a dog chasing a car down the street. It appears that he's finally caught it, and it appears that we must come to grips with the fact that a hardcore partisan Democrat running as a faux moderate with no significant legislative accomplishments in the United States Senate will take office in less than three months.
Many of us are ready to be done with the Bush administration, with its excesses, with its incompetence, with its ideological bankruptcy, but yet, its own hyperpartisanship.
But now what?