Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If McCain has to fight everywhere, he will lose

The advantage in the coming election is with Obama. If it comes down to undecided voters who don't know who to pick three days before the election, Obama will win. This is a time when Americans seem to want an opportunity to reject Bush's legacy, and in a pinch McCain is too similar. That doesn't mean McCain can't win, but it makes things hard.

In the past, Republicans and Democrats have been able to rely on certain "safe" states - Northeast and California for Dems, the South and West for the GOP. When the other party can break these blocs, they win the election.

But this election is slightly different. The same trends are evident - Louisiana won't go for Obama any more than New York will vote McCain. But a few of the more marginal Republican states are being pried away from McCain.

All in all, the only tossup territory McCain's actually secured is Florida. I thought it might be up for grabs, but now I predict it will go for McCain, narrowly but solidly. McCain also puts up a great fight in Indiana, Missouri and Ohio, and possibly in New Jersey. But besides New Jersey, all these states have been Republican once or twice in the last two elections. Bush won Indiana (11 electoral votes) by 15 points and 20 points. Now Obama is even or ahead there. However, these states could still go for McCain if he made a powerful push there and really succeeded. If this happened, he could win.

But another factor will prevent him from being able to make that push. Solidly Republican states from all over the map are being seduced by Obama. Polls have shown the following Republican states within striking distance for Obama: Alaska, Montana, Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico. Honestly, that's a lot of states to hold onto while still making a big push in Ohio.

I personally think McCain doesn't have the power to recover all of these states and also take the few he could steal from Obama. He's got limited time and money, plus everything he says to make Ohio happy could piss off voters in Nevada.

What will happen? The current RCP map shows Obama probably taking Colorado. I think he'll also pick up Virginia and New Mexico. McCain will retain the Carolinas and Georgia, but he'll have to spend a load of time and money to secure them - money that won't be used to help out in Ohio and Indiana. Nevada, the Dakotas and Montana will also likely stay with McCain.

The problem isn't whether McCain will lose those states, it's whether he can afford -in time, money and political capital - to keep them and pick up the swings. For McCain, things look grim.

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