McCain’s Final Stand

RealClearPolitics summary for 15 OCT 08:  Electoral College blowout?

RealClearPolitics summary for 15 OCT 08: Electoral College blowout?

Tonight’s third and final debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is the last scheduled opportunity for the candidates to make an impression on the voters.  Election Day is less than three weeks away and, by the looks of things, McCain needs a miracle.

According to the poll averages at RealClearPolitics, McCain is getting crushed.  A race that had been essentially tied for months — and which McCain was briefly leading after Sarah Palin’s convention speech rallied the base and inspired undecided voters — has turned into an Obama blowout because of the global financial crisis.

Obama is up an average of 8 points in the polls and leading by at least three in every single poll being tracked.  He’s actually up 14 points in the latest CBS News poll, which isn’t included in the average.

Worse yet, the state-by-state polls show the race even further out of reach.  He’s losing in every single battleground state — and several that were supposed to be solid Red states, like North Carolina.

Electoral College Projection Obama 364 McCain 174

Electoral College Projection Obama 364 McCain 174

And, no, RCP isn’t a Democrat-leaning site; if anything, it skews slightly GOP. has it Obama 354, McCain 181.   On this day in 2004, they had George W. Bush up 284 to 228 over John Kerry.  Democratic-leaning stats geek Nate Silver has it at Obama 361.4 to McCain’s 176.6 (totals I can guarantee won’t match the actual results).

Currently, taking the least depressing estimate from above, Obama is currently leading in 10 states that Bush carried in 2004:  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.   McCain is currently leading in zero states Kerry won.

Absent some absolutely tremendous scandal, turnaround looks doubtful here.

Let’s presume that McCain will hold on to all the states he’s currently being allocated.  Add in all the states that are merely leaning blue that went red last time:  Florida (27), Virginia (13), Ohio (20), North Dakota (3), and Nevada (5).   That only brings McCain to 249 Electoral votes, 21 shy of victory.   To win, then, he’ll have to keep all the states currently leaning red — on the most generous estimate of those leaning red — pick up all those currently barely leaning blue — and also pick off another 21 votes from states that are now “weak Democrat.”  So, throw in Missouri (11), Colorado (9) and New Mexico (5).  That brings McCain to 274 — a win!

Is this conceivable?  Yes.  At all likely?  No.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Pug says:

    This will all turn around in a New York minute if anybody finds out about Jeremiah Wright.

  2. The Other Ed says:

    “This will all turn around in a New York minute if anybody finds out about Jeremiah Wright.”

    Excuse me? Those hundreds of times that the Wright clips were played in the spring weren’t seen by anybody? I think you vastly overrate any new impact to be gained by rehashing Wright and underestimate the damage that going even more negative will do to McCain.

    But hey, if it keeps hope alive, go for it.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Sure, Pug, go for it. I hope the McCain campaign strategists who read this blog follow that script and see what happens.

  4. Jamie says:

    I blame it on Sarah Palin because she is all, like, unintellectual and stuff.

  5. duckspeaker says:

    As an aside, the only reason Wright hasn’t been brought up lately is Palin’s newly YouTubed witch-hunter pastor, not because of some exercise in political ethics.

  6. Pug says:

    I guess you guys took me seriously.

    The key phrase there was “if anybody finds out about Jeremiah Wright”. Obviously, Jeremiah was played all summer long in constant rotation and everybody already knows about him. That’s what I meant, not what I said. I guess wise cracks aren’t very good when you end up having to explain them.

    Meanwhile, the McCain campaign agonizes over whether to “use” Jeremiah or not.

  7. […] The silver lining this year, at least in terms of tension, is that these perennial issues really only matter when the election is close. As detailed this morning, it appears that we’re in for a blowout. […]

  8. Jamie says:

    As an aside, the only reason Wright hasn’t been brought up lately is Palin’s newly YouTubed witch-hunter pastor, not because of some exercise in political ethics.

    As much as I hate to agree with Bill Maher, I think his comment on this one right. If Obama were caught getting a blessing against witchcraft, his election chances would be next to nothing, but for Palin, everyone who thinks that sort of religious practice is ridiculous hates Palin anyway and those that do think she might need a blessing against evil spiritual forces love her more for getting the blessing.

  9. angellight says:

    Why is McCain being Deceitful about the fact that William Ayers’ educational foundation was funded by Republicans, not Democrats, Republicans, who are now endorsing him?

    The Annenbergs who are Republicans, Bankrolled William Ayers with $50 million dollars. However, Walter and Leonore Annenberg weren’t just giving money to the educational foundation started by William Ayers, they were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:

    George W. Bush $4000 – Mitt Romney $5000
    Strom Thurmond $1000 – Fred Thompson $500
    Rick Santorum $3000

    There are questions that are not being asked or answered such as –why would billionaire Republican philanthropists give millions of dollars to a program that was started by William Ayers, if he is such a scary figure and unrepentant? Why would George W., Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and all those other Republicans accept money from the people who were funding this William Ayers-associated group? And, why won’t McCain discuss these connections between the Republican Party and Ayers?”

    Recently, McCain campaign put out a press release bragging about the fact that Leonore Annenberg has endorsed him for president. The very Leonore Annenberg who bankrolled William Ayers with millions of dollars is now backing McCain!

    Lastly, Republican Arnold Weber who served on the board of the CAC with Barack, who worked with William Ayers in the 90’s, has also donated at least $1000 to the McCain campaign. So you see, McCain is accepting money from associates of William Ayers, and so far has not given the money back. Why won’t McCain come clean about these facts? Why is he being deceitful about this?

  10. Bystander says:

    I am surprised at how surprised everyone is about politics and politic-ing. With few exceptions, it seems to eventually corrupt good people. The sad thing is that the majority of the public is no longer scandalized by political scandal – at least not for long. Right now people are terribly angry about the massive financial scandal of Wall Streeters and DC insiders (and rightfully so), but the scoundrels “fear not, for this too shall pass”, as soon as the elections are over.

  11. Floyd says:

    So it’s all sack cloth and ashes for the competent? We’ll still have to wait and see.

  12. bains says:

    Why is McCain being Deceitful about the fact that William Ayers’ educational foundation was funded by Republicans, not Democrats…

    Because only the uninformed, or gullible, or dishonest buy into your contention that the Annenberg Foundation is a Republican organization. Using your logic, CNN is a pro-socialist news source because founder Ted Turner is pro-socialist.

  13. anjin-san says:

    McCain is now saying Fl will be “stolen” from him. Its pretty bad when a candidate starts making excuses for defeat three weeks before the fact…

  14. […] James Joyner has reached the same conclusion that I did a few days ago: that it looks like an Obama win and that McCain would need a miracle to pull it out. […]