The McCain campaign's latest pronouncements and a NY Times story together focus Sunday morning attention on the electoral map, as well as closing weeks strategies.
The Times story begins: The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the contours of the presidential campaign map, giving new force to Senator Barack Obama’s ambitious strategy to make incursions into Republican territory, while leading Senator John McCain to scale back his efforts to capture Democratic states."
Update: The Washington Post chimes in with the same analysis. Its story begins: "The faltering economy has left Sen. John McCain on the political defensive, altering the landscape in many of the most important battleground states and providing a series of avenues for Sen. Barack Obama to claim the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House in November, according to political strategists in both parties."
On the Obama side, the Times notes he's going to be doing debate prep for Tuesday in North Carolina, which hasn't gone blue in a blue moon. The story indicates that Team Obama also sees Virginia, Florida and Nevada in play, as well as Colorado and New Mexico, and are looking to pick off a district in Nebraska (where electoral votes are by district.) Not mentioned but otherwise in play: Indiana and Ohio.
McCainites pulled out of Michigan, and now say they will focus on Colorado, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada and Minnesota. (What happened to Ohio and Florida? I assume they're still contesting those!) But at least one poll gives Obama a lead--sometimes a big lead--in all these states. Though one poll last week showed McCain slightly ahead in Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune poll gives Obama a 55% to 37% lead there.
Another local newspaper poll--this one a tracking poll--from the Morning Call/Muhlenberg College--in Pennsylvania gives Obama a 51% to 39% lead. This confirms a pretty substantial Obama lead in PA seen in other recent polls, with the economic troubles of the past few weeks as the catalyst again. The United Steelworkers president suggests that McCain may have to abandon PA as well (which seems real unlikely, but unless he's blowing smoke, it's an interesting POV.)
Later Sunday update: Another newspaper poll--the Columbus Dispatch--has Obama up by 7 points in Ohio.
Friday saw good numbers for Obama in Nevada and very good in New Hampshire, which was his only New England question mark. So at the moment, Obama is well ahead in blue states and in the battleground states McCainites are targeting, plus pretty close in Indiana, Ohio and a few other red states.
So what does McCain do? He changes the subject, as his campaign unwisely announced, away from the economy to Obama as scary outsider, pal of terrorists, etc. Unwisely, because the Obama campaign is pre-empting him not only by attacking McCain on economic issues but on his judgment. An ad set to air starting Monday will call McCain's leadership "erratic."
I know I shouldn't be thinking about election night yet, but I can't help it. When the eastern seaboard states report, the dominoes could start to fall. New England and New York should tumble first for Obama. If Obama wins Virginia and North Carolina, make sure the champagne is cold, cause we're probably looking at a landslide. And even if he doesn't, if he wins Florida, pop it open. PA, start pouring it all over yourselves. McCain cannot win if he loses Florida and PA.
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