Tuesday, October 7, 2008

McCain's Path to the White House

With a month to go in the presidential campaign, predictions of a Barack Obama election blowout are getting as common as the shady Chicago socialist's discarded radical pals.

Electoral College

I'm optimistic but no Pollyanna.

Nevertheless, folks don't talk about October surprises for nothing. Tonight's debate may prove to be a crucial game-changer for the Republicans. John McCain needs to focus on what he can do for the country.

* He was out in front on market reforms of Freddie and Fannie, and he's got a legitimate record as a reformer and spending hawk: Run with it.

* He was right about Iraq from day one, never wavering amid a domestic antiwar campaign that at times has bordered on treason: Hammer it.

* He is the personification of patriotism and service to country for which people hunger: Tap it.

* Most of all, John McCain represents the historic center of America's political cuture and ideology. Don't run from it. Hammer the point. Show America over and over again what four years of a Barack Obama adimistration means for the nation's exceptionalism and ideals.

I do not believe that Americans are so worried about the economy that they are willing to abandon the American experiment of exceptionalism to the state-centralized lethargy of European socialist economics.

That said, politically, look at the map above.
The Los Angeles Times reports that McCain's facing an uphill battle. True, but compared to 538 and RealClearPolitics, there's significant possiblities for the GOP ahead.

Here's a decent scenario on the state of the race:

National polls give Obama a small but steady lead over McCain, built as the financial crisis has consumed the country. But the race for president is actually a series of contests fought state by state or, in the case of Nebraska and Maine, congressional district by congressional district. (Most states are winner-take-all. After quitting Michigan, McCain strategists said they would redeploy forces to Maine, the other state that apportions its electoral votes, to fight for one its four electors.)

The attempt to split off a vote illustrates the lengths the candidates are going to win an electoral college majority, mindful of the exceedingly close outcomes in 2000 and 2004. "If you win an electoral vote from the other side, that's a swing of two votes," said Robert Hardaway, a University of Denver expert on the electoral college. "In a close race, that could make the difference."

Strategists for the two sides are sifting daily reams of data -- opinion polls, voter registration numbers, TV ad logs -- to decide how to spend their money and where to schedule the presidential hopefuls and their running mates. As they plot their maps, each candidate starts with the 2004 results. If nothing changed and McCain won every state Bush carried, the Arizona senator would have 286 electoral votes and keep the White House in Republican hands for a third straight term.

But replicating Bush's success is a tall order for McCain, given the unpopularity of the incumbent and the economic upheaval that, surveys indicate, is hurting Republicans more than Democrats. Polls show voters place more trust in Obama when it comes to handling the economy.

They also have McCain trailing or tied with Obama in a half dozen states Bush won in 2004: Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. McCain is tied or only slightly ahead of Obama in two other Bush states, Missouri and Indiana.

McCain could afford to lose a few Bush states -- Iowa and New Mexico seem most likely -- if he wins some that Democrats carried in 2004. Topping his list is Pennsylvania, which has 21 electoral votes and may be the closest thing to a must-win for Obama. Polls show the race there is close.
The election's still close.

McCain needs to focus his core message now more that ever, hammering his ace cards of experience, accurate instincts on the economy, and unshakable patriotic convictions. That's the Maverick's path to the White House.