Sarah Palin may be disappointed that they have left the state of Michigan. Yet with Obama having a 7% lead in a state that voted for Kerry and Gore, it makes much more sense for the Republicans to focus on the key battle states and take the resources from this state to those where it may make the difference. Namely:
State Electoral Count Obama lead (%)
North Carolina 15 0.5
Nevada 5 1.8
Ohio 20 2.0
Virgina 13 2.4
Florida 27 3.0 [source]
If the Republicans concede any of these states then McCain has lost the White House. Taking states like those above where candidates have a 3% lead or less gives Obama 264 and McCain 163 – to win all it takes is 270. Despite Obama having on average a 6% lead in the polls (ranging from 3% – 9%) it will be those marginal states above that decide it. If McCain can get a 1.5% swing to him from Obama he will win the White House.
As I think that the polls are over stating Obama’s lead and under representing McCain, it is still very possible for McCain to win the White House. It is tight, and giving up on States that Obama has a clear lead in may be the smart move.
What McCain cannot afford however is to loose any states he currently holds. The good news for him (unlike Obama) is that most states are solidly supporting him, with only two states being vulnerable:
State Electoral Count McCain lead (%)
Missouri 11 1.7
Indiana 11 2.2 [source]
So when people tell you it will be a landslide for Obama or a close run race the answer is that there is an element of truth. If all the toss up seats go as they indicate above then Obama wins triumphantly 353 to 185. But a closer race is well within the margin for error. Obama wins Flordia or Ohio and keeps the other states that strongly support him then it is game over for McCain.
If the polls are under representing support for McCain he has a good chance of a narrow win. All the states above that are for Obama voted for George Bush in both 2000 and 20004. That may yet be reflected as we get nearer to polling day.
So expect more things like Palin pointing out that Obama was on a charity board with a founder member of the Weather Underground (a terroirst organisation against US involvement in the Vietnam war) while campaigning in Colorado (leaning to Obama 4.4% lead but voted for Bush the previous two times). What the McCain camp hope is that if the election becomes about character McCain will win. With Obama in Virgina attacking McCain’s health plan we may yet see an ideological battle occur to against an economic meltdown backdrop.
The key thing will be getting out the vote in these states. If Obama supporters feel that it is a done deal they may be inclined to stay at home. That would be a nightmare on polling day when results show the contest closer then the media were calling it. Obama has shown that he can create the momentum. The thing is to keep it going and on election day deliver his supporters to the polling booth.
One thing which McCain and Palin may use in the campaign:
The positive component is pretty straightforward: McCain and Palin are common sense conservatives and proven reformers. The record of reform can be emphasized and contrasted with Obama’s and Biden’s record of conventional, go-along, get-along liberalism. And implicitly: If McCain and Palin are reformers and outsiders, it’s not Bush’s third term. More important is the negative message. The McCain campaign has to convince 51 percent of the voters they can’t trust Barack Obama to be our next president. This has an ideological component and a character component. [Weekly Standard]
Democrats keep the champagne in the fridge – instead keep drinking the coffee because you are going to have to bust a gut to make sure that Obama wins the key states above and not fall for the hype that is being generated. The time to relax is when the polls close, because it ain’t over till it’s over.