Tuesday, July 29, 2008

operation keep it close

Some of my Democratic friends are worried. Despite all of John McCain's screw-ups, he seems to be still within striking distance of winning. And if he taps Romney, they fear, Michigan and a few other Kerry states might fall into GOP hands. And so goes the presidency. But lets look at the facts.

  1. Of the top ten best-funded House candidates who are challenging incumbents, nine of them are Democrats. The better funded the challenger is, the greater the likelihood that they will defeat an incumbent. And I am not even counting open seats, where 27 of the 29 House open seats were vacated by a Republican, and the top 15 contests feature 1 Republican with more money than the Democrat. In other words, the House is not only going to stay Democratic, but also the Dems will likely gain 10-20 seats, some of which will come from the following swing states: NC, PA, VA, OH, NM, MN, WA, MI, MO, FL and yes AK. With the large money advantage that the Democratic cogressional campaign committees hold over their GOP rivals, this means more money spend on turning out Dems and Dem-leaning independents all over the map, which can only help Obama.

  2. The number and type of swing states favors Democrats. The most recent poll says Obama trails McCain in North Carolina by a mere 4 points (the margin of error was 3.4 percent). And PPP was pretty accurate on NC during the primaries...the Pollster.com average for this state is a mere two point McCain lead. On to Alaska, where McCain leads by less than 8 points according to Pollster. Or North Dakota, where McCain's lead is less than 3 points. Ditto for Montana. Two points in Colorado according to Pollster, but FiveThirtyEight.com, who got the most accurate results estimates in the primaries, thinks Obama is still narrowly ahead. Even narrower leads for McCain in these states: .8 in Florida, .7 in Missouri, and .6 in Indiana. Obama has an eight point lead in New Mexico, an 6.5 point lead in Iowa, and 6.1 point lead in New Hampshire. What do all of these states have in common? They all went for Bush in either 2000 or 2004 (or both). I didn't even mention the tight races in Nevada, Virginia, and McCain's "home" state of Arizona, or the Alaska-like closeness in Georgia. The only Kerry state--other than New Hampshire--Obama has to watch closely is Michigan, where he is up 7 points (or if you believe the conspiracy theories, Ohio, where Obama has a 3.5 percent lead). In other words, McCain is forced to defend many more states than Bush ever worried about in 2000 or 2004, and McCain's offense is limited to NH and MI because Obama has shored up the previously shaky states like OR, WA, PA, WI, and ME. There lots of ways Obama can get to 270+ electoral votes, but McCain can't without holding onto Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and Nevada, as well as pulling Michigan AND either Iowa or New Hamsphire back into the fold (or add Missouri to McCain's collum and you need Colorado and New Mexico instead of Iowa or New Hampshire). Try out the scenerios for yourself at 270toWin.com. Why do I mention states like Alaska and Georgia? Because Obama can afford to spread the field wide and keep lots of states close (which helps lots of down ticket House and Senate races in places like Alaska), rather than hunkering down on a few states and working on his triple bank shot like Democrats mised in 2000 and 2004.

  3. Obama's trip went well. If politics is watching TV with the sound turned off, then the images of him looking tough with Gen. Patreaus, talking and talking with various important heads of state, as well as a crowd of 200,000 Germans with people waiving US flags certainly trumps McCain standing in front of a German House or spilling apple sauce in a grocery store. And the polling confirms it: his lead has jumped back up to its highest levels against McCain since Obama came home.

  4. The enthusaism gap. Here's how the Hotline explains the latest Pew poll:
    John McCain's supporters believe Barack Obama is the candidate with new ideas (58% to McCain's 24%). McCain voters also say Obama is more likable (45% to 34%).

    [...] Just a quarter of [GOPers who backed another Republican for President] supports McCain strongly, compared with 57% who support him only moderately. Herein lies the chief quandary for McCain. How does he generate enthusiasm from his base and court the precious swing voters he needs to win?

All in all, Obama is still rightfully the odds on favorite to be the next President, but it is by no means a lock.

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