October 30, 2008
McCain Campaign is the Little Dutch Boy
As some of you may know, there is a Presidential election campaign going on. We're upset at how little information there is out there for voters to weed through, in particular the lack of poll numbers and stories about polls. So here's our effort to fill that gap at this late stage of the season. This information is unique, in the sense that it is probably only one of 10,000 places where you can find it.
This analysis assumes that poll averages are not altogether misleading. It assumes that a state with a 10-point spread with five days to go and where neither candidate is spending a lot of time, money or love is probably not going to go the opposite direction on November 4.
Starting with these assumptions, Senator Obama is leading 238-123 in the race to 270.
This is what Senator McCain has to do to win. He has to do ALL of these.
1. Hold onto three states (South Dakota, Mississippi and his home state of Arizona) where he still leads but is slipping. Arizona in particular is very telling.
2. Hold onto four states (Indiana, Georgia, North Dakota and Montana) where he leads by less than 3 points. Again, the movement in Obama's direction in GA and MT in the last couple of weeks has been noteworthy.
3. Win three important states (Florida, Missouri, North Carolina) where Obama leads by less than 3 points. These are true toss-up states, according to the polls. McCain needs all of them to break his way.
4. Win Ohio. This was supposed to be a tough go for Obama. In spite of Joe the Wanna-Be-Plumber (he seems very vice-presidential, don't you think?), Obama has quietly been building a small but steady lead here, now at about 6%.
5. Win Pennsylvania. There was a poll today that showed Obama up by 4%. Almost all of the others in the last few days have been double digits, and the average is around 10%. Pehaps this is competitive and only the campaigns know this and have decided to keep this from us so as not to ruin the end of the movie. More likely the McCain campaign knew that it had to propagandize the winnability of Pennsylvania in order to avoid having the fight called a week early, and the Obama campaign's active response is just the latest example of their discipline, follow-through, beaucoup cash and learning from prior mistakes such as New Hampshire.
6. Yes, there's more. Even with all of these, with OH and PA and FL and MO and NC, McCain still needs to beat Obama in either Nevada or Colorado or New Mexico, all states where Obama has 6.5 to 8 point leads. Colorado and New Mexico have been steady for some time and Nevada is another place where Obama's lead is steadily growing.
That's 13 states out of 16 in play that McCain has to win. This in spite of being outspent 3-1, out-volunteered by more than that, out-loved by the media (except Fox, of course), and in spite of record-busting early voter turnout that seems to be heavily in Obama's favor.
Here's what Obama has to do. He only needs to do ONE of these.
1. Win Florida, where he leads by 2 to 3 points, and any one of 12 other states in contention.
2. Win any two of these three: PA (10% lead), VA (7% lead), OH (6% lead).
3. Win Colorado and 1.) either OH or PA with 2.) either New Mexico or Nevada.
4. Win Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.
Here are some ways to contextualize this:
- Obama can actually lose FL, OH and PA and still win.
- At most, he needs to win 4 of 16 states still in play.
- He doesn't need to win any states in which he currently leads by less than 6.5 points.
- He doesn't need to win any states in which he has less than 50% of the vote. In other words, McCain has to win every single undecided voter in some states - an absurd notion, of course - and still have to convince a significant number of Obama voters (who haven't voted already) that they should change their minds.
There are simply too many holes in the dyke to plug. So, really, the only chance McCain has is if the polls are HUGELY wrong. Which is what we will likely be hearing through the weekend, as there is no other argument to make. And because everyone in the game other than the Obama campaign has an interest in keeping the storyline going full-bore through Tuesday night and, hopefully, beyond.
(We'll talk about a tie later, just for fun).
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