For McCain, It May All Come Down to Pennsylvania
It wasn’t all that long ago — actually, about two and a half weeks ago — that the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan and set its sights on three key battleground states: Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. (Although he was behind quite decisively in all three.)
Well, it now looks like it’s all about Pennsylvania. As Jim Rutenberg of NYT’s The Caucus reported yesterday, McCain is reducing his advertising in five heretofore battleground states: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota. The expectation is that he will “use the savings to increase his advertising in Pennsylvania and, possibly, Ohio and Florida, all of which have become that much more vital should Mr. McCain have to concede states like Colorado and Wisconsin.”
It is not clear if he is actually giving up on these states, but it does seem that his new “path to victory” requires a win in Pennsylvania (where Hillary did well and where Gov. Rendell is “still a little nervous“). Nate Silver explains (drawing on Al Giordano). Basically, it’s yet another Hail Mary, with McCain, who may soon bring up Jeremiah Wright as a racially-charged last-ditch smear of Obama, focusing on Appalachia and the South in hopes of winning Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.
There are other ways for McCain to win, or for Obama to lose, as Noam Scheiber suggests, but it’s pretty clear the McCain campaign has run out of ideas.
Polls released just this morning show Obama with solid leads in some key battleground states, prompting Nate Silver to remark that they “present a view of what the world might look like if [he] wins in a landslide”:
The Big Ten polls have Obama ahead by double digits in ten Midwestern states: he leads by 10 in Indiana, 11 in Pennsylvania, 12 in Ohio, 13 in Wisconsin and Iowa, 19 in Minnesota, 22 in Michigan, and 29 in Illinois.
Quinnipiac has Obama ahead by 14 points in Ohio, 13 points in Pennsylvania, and 5 points in Florida.
These may be outliers, but they may also add up to a “best-case scenario.” The final results will likely be closer, but Obama could win those states by significant margins and could pull off a landslide victory overall.
Either way, what’s pretty clear is that McCain’s Pennsylvania-or-bust strategy (or, rather, desperate Hail Mary play) is looking more and more like a sure-fire failure.