26 October 2008

Painting a rosy picture

Nine days out, the following things are keeping me optimistic about Sen. McCain's chances:

1. According to Dick Morris, based on the way most polls are conducted (taken over the span of 3-4 days, with at least one day of tallying and splicing the numbers), we should begin to see any measurable effect of McCain's "Joe the Plumber" message begin to take hold either tomorrow or Tuesday. Why would McCain's 11th-hour populist message work? ...

2. As David Brooks noted last week in his excellent column about "Patio Man," this remains a center-right nation. While Sen. Obama's message has connected with many people across various walks of life, he is a quintessential tax-and-spend liberal in the vein of Pelosi, Durbin and Sanders. And although the vast majority of Americans are fed up with the Bush administration, the Changemaker is an extraordinarily abrupt lurch in the other direction. 

3. I believe that in virtually all of the swing states (with the possible exception of Florida), race will be a factor. The "Bradley Effect" has been debated ad nauseum, but the reality is there are many areas of the country -- downstate Missouri, eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania -- comprised of a substantial number of racist voters. Will these people actually pull the lever for a black candidate for president? And is having a lead in hand that's within the margin of error in many of these states a comfortable place for Team Hope to be?

4a. I wonder whether the enthusiasm gap has been overstated. Here in St. Louis, despite most polls showing a virtual dead heat, Obama yard signs outnumber McCain yard signs 3 or 4-1. It's remarkable. I'm Sen. McCain's biggest supporter and think he would make an excellent president, but I don't have a sign in my front yard. 

4b. Furthermore, at the risk of sounding like Ann Coulter, it's the fashionable thing to do to support Sen. Obama. As a McCain supporter in a generally liberal environment, one sometimes feels compelled to at least throw a few nice remarks the Hopemonger's way. I really do wonder if people's responses to pollers' questions are affected by this pervasive pro-Obama sentiment among not only his voracious supporters, but virtually every media outlet.

5. Team Hope expected to garner an early lead from early voting in both Florida and North Carolina. The results have shown a dead heat in both states.

6. With the exception of the Iowa caucuses, the Hopemonger's record of closing the deal in the Democratic primaries was quite poor. A perfect example is in New Hampshire, where Obama was running even within the last week of polling, and Sen. Clinton won the state by nearly ten points. The reason for this continues to be batted around.

7. Despite the assault from "unbiased" media types such as Chris Matthews and Joe Klein, Sen. McCain still enjoys a remarkable amount of respect across voting blocs, party lines and demographic groups. Virtually every poll confirms this.

8. McCain's path to victory is fairly simple: He can allow Obama to flip Iowa and New Mexico -- two states that Bush won in 2004 -- into the blue column. The Senior Senator would then need to simply hold the remaining red swing states from four years ago (Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada). If he were to manage to flip New Hampshire to the red column (a place where he remains quite popular), he could afford to lose any one of those states except Florida and Ohio. If he could pull off an upset in Pennsylvania, he could lose two or three of them. Team Maverick seems to think that their internal polling data justifies keeping the Hawkeye State in play. In each of the aforementioned red swing states, Obama's lead is generally close to or within the margin of error.

9. An enormous amount of voters are still undecided. Sixty-plus million people tuned into last month's vice-presidential debate. The McCain/Obama showdowns each drew 50 million viewers or more. Aside from we politicos, most people do not tune into the debates for their entertainment value. And virtually every poll tags the number of undecided voters around 10 percent. This late in the game, that's remarkable.

10. Finally, as noted above, Sen. Obama has connected with tens of millions of people. His core constituents are the young and previously apathetic; college professors; tax-and-spenders in the vein of John Kerry; anti-war moonbats; and, of course, black voters. These are a number of sizable constituencies. However, there are tens of millions more (see number 9, above) who still find it hard to buy what he is selling. Do I think the Hopemonger will win? Probably so. But I'd love to climb into the head of a swing voter in southern Michigan, in a run-down mining town in Ohio or in suburban Denver. When they draw the curtain behind them, or stand alone in front of a touch screen where no one else can see their choice, what will they do? At that point, what will be going through their mind? That's what makes this particular election cycle so fascinating.

The reality is that Obama should be headed for a 1984-style blowout -- and yet Sen. McCain continues to hang around. One thing's for sure: This ain't over yet.

1 comment:

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