Monday, October 20, 2008

Two weeks left

Barring some unforseen "October surprise", it looks very much like Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. Although the national polls have tightened somewhat over the past few days, they are irrelevant at this point. What matters are the polls in the (previously) red states that Obama is currently competing in.

As the map stands right now, Obama will definitely pick up Iowa and New Mexico at a bare minimum, while holding New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, states where McCain hoped to be competitive, but also states where his hopes are fading fast.

That leaves Obama needing to win only one of the following six states to get past 270: Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Missouri. Winning only Nevada and its five electoral votes would result in a 269-269 tie, but even this would work in Obama's favor, since the Democratic majority in Congress would select him as the new President.

Looking at the polling, Obama leads by healthy margins in both Colorado and Virginia, and is statistically tied or leading slightly in all the others. Even Indiana and Georgia are possible Democratic pickups. Remember, Obama needs to win only one of these states. McCain needs them all.

When you consider the great degree of uncertainty over turnout and new registrations, as well as encouraging results from early voting, an Obama landslide is still a very probable outcome, and even a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate majority is not an outlandish possibility.

It's too early to write a McCain campaign post-mortem, but this is a good effort from the Anonymous Liberal in explaining where it derailed:

Going into the Republican Convention, Obama was up by eight points (50-42) in the Gallup daily tracking poll. By the time the convention concluded, McCain was up by five in the same poll. At the time, most of this rather large bounce was attributed to Sarah Palin's much-discussed national debut. But, like Nate Silver, I suspect that McCain may have gotten a bigger boost from his own under-appreciated convention speech. The speech wasn't written or delivered particularly well, but I think it was very effective in tone and content. McCain told his very moving personal story and re-embraced his prior image as a maverick and a reformer, someone who could rise above partisan politics and get things done. Unlike the rest of the convention, the speech was aimed squarely at independents and swing voters. McCain spent very little time attacking Obama and presented viewers with a mostly positive (if not very specific) case for his candidacy.

The most worried I've been about Obama's chances was in the immediate aftermath of that speech. I thought it would play pretty well among up-for-grab voters and I worried that the McCain campaign--having attacked Obama harshly and effectively during the convention--would use McCain's speech as a pivot point and spend the rest of the campaign making a direct appeal to independents and swing voters.

But they didn't do that. In the days following McCain's convention speech, his campaign looked around at all the suddenly favorable poll numbers and made a completely inexplicable decision. They decided to pick an unnecessary fight with the media by suddenly and dramatically ratcheting up the dishonestly level of the campaign. Instead of quietly conceding that many of Governor Palin's initial claims about her record had been false, the campaign doubled-down. Despite widespread debunking of these claims by the media, Palin insisted on repeating them--verbatim--in all of her appearances. McCain himself waded in, adding the claims to his own stump speech. Campaign ads were released touting the same debunked claims.
Click the link for the whole thing.
Also, here's an epic thrashing of a Ralph Peters column in the New York Post by Daniel Larison.

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