How McCain Can Win

John McCain has exactly one chance to thread the needle in the next 12 days and it requires him to win an uphill battle for Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes.*  Nothing else matters.

To understand this, let’s pretend we’re flies on the wall of Team McCain’s sanctum sanctorum, his top-secret war room. Above the flat-panel TVs there’s a sign that says, “It’s not the stupid economy!” and all over the walls are maps. Lots and lots of maps.

*There is another scenario currently being kicked around that starts with the assumption that McCain holds all of the 2004 Bush states.  This strikes me as substantially less likely as the scenario laid out here, but your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.  If you’re interested in a round-up of all of the ways people are speculating that McCain might yet come back, check out this post from New York Magazine.

Continue reading “How McCain Can Win”

As If the Debate Weren’t Enough…

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza notes today that in almost every state, Team Obama is massively outspending Team McCain PLUS the Republican National Committee and in so doing, forcing the McCainites to make tough choices about which battleground states to contest and to spend their finite money defending their own turf.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, Obama spent more than $20 million on television ads in 17 states including more than $3 million in Pennsylvania and more than $2 million each in Florida, Michigan and Ohio. McCain in that same time frame spent just $7.2 million in 15 states. Even when the Republican National Committee’s independent expenditure spending in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin is factored in (a total of $5.3 million), Obama still outspent the combined GOP forces by roughly $8 million in the last week alone

Cillizza notes that the air war is not confined to battleground states; in states like Virginia and North Carolina – which have voted Red since 1964 – Obama is pouring advertising in at a prodigious rate: In North Carolina, Obama spent about $1.5 million on television commercials last week while McCain spent only $137,000. In Virginia, Obama spent $1.6 million on ads last week while McCain and the RNC together only spent $909,000. Not surprisingly, perhaps, both states are now toss-ups in many pollsters’ calculations. accounting services fine

First Cut at the General Election Map

At the risk of being accused of jumping the gun, I spent some time this evening with an electoral map looking at the battleground states. After divvying up the safe Red States (169 electoral votes) and safe Blue States (214), I came up with 155 electoral votes in play this November in these states:

  • Colorado 9 votes
  • Florida 27
  • Indiana 11
  • Iowa 7
  • Louisianna 9
  • Michigan 17
  • Missouri 11
  • Nevada 5
  • New Mexico 5
  • Ohio 20
  • Pennsylvania 21
  • Virginia 13

Some of these are probably not truly in play; I doubt the Dems can actually take Indiana and Louisianna, for example. That said, the GOP is going to have to work extra hard to keep these normally reliable states in their column and that will be a challenge in and of itself (in an interesting role reversal, it’s the GOP that’s short cash this cycle). Others, though, like Virgina and Nevada, are truly contestable.

In truth, though, the election will probably come down to a couple of big states – Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio – as it did in 2000 and 2004. The winner will probably need to take 2 out of those 3 to get to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. The latest polling I’ve seen on head-to-head matchups in those states between Senators Obama and McCain has McCain slightly up in Ohio and Florida and Obama up in Pennsylvania. All, however, are within the margin of error and there remains a sizeable number of undecideds, others, etc.

I’m a nerd and old so I spent hours creating my own map which is too big to be easily viewed here. Nonetheless, since I managed to color so neatly in the lines, I’m posting it here. If you click on it, it should take you to a larger version where you can actually read it. In battleground states where I was able to find recent (i.e. from May) head-to-head McCain-Obama numbers, they’re displayed in a McCain/Obama/Other format.

Those of you who want to play “what if” using your own assumptions can do so much more easily by using the interactive electoral map at a web site called 270 to Win. The interface is very slick and there’s lots of historical data on the site in case you want to review – say – the electoral results for 1828 when Andrew Jackson kicked ass in the popular vote (and brought home the most electoral votes) but because no candidate won a majority of electors, the House of Representatives picked John Quincy Adams.

1828 makes 2000 look legitimate by comparison and the 2008 debate about the role of superdelegates seems like a tempest in a teapot.

– Austin

PS – For some reason, I can no longer see the map I pasted into this post (I see a little empty box instead). Since I can’t figure out how to fix this, here’s a link to the map. free invoice templates fine

Clinton Ads Add Up

Senator Obama may be ahead in pledged delegates, votes, states, rally attendance, small donors, and money, but he is lagging in one key area, effectiveness of paid advertising. From the phone ad to her current testimonial ad attacking Obama for dissing small towns, God and guns, Senator Clinton’s ads have been more effective.

Here newest Pennsylvania TV ad is in no danger of winning an Addy. It’s not the least bit clever or creative, but it connects because it uses credible third parties, not Senator Clinton, making the charge in an sincere, understated tone. I’ve sat through a lot of focus groups of undecided voters, and I can almost guarantee that the leave behind for many of them will be “regular people are really pissed off at Obama for looking down at us and our way of life,” not their usual reaction to attack ads — “just more blah, blah, blah political bickering”

Score. This ad ensures that Bittergate will not just be a four-day story for Obama, but will be pounded into voters heads repeatedly. That’s exactly what Senator Clinton needs. (The problem for Democrats is that it’s also exactly what Senator McCain needs.)

Despite Obama’s huge ad volume advantage, no Obama ad sticks in my head as being memorable or moving. That needs to change if Obama is ever to become President.

– Loveland

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