McCain’s Final Stand
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.
And, no, RCP isn’t a Democrat-leaning site; if anything, it skews slightly GOP. Electoral-Vote.com 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.