Sunday, October 26, 2008

With the race supposedly tightening, McCain guarantees victory

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With the race supposedly tightening, for so we are being told, McCain was on Meet the Press this morning. Among other things, he...

guaranteed victory?

Here's what he said: "I guarantee you that two weeks from now, you will see this has been a very close race, and I believe that I'm going to win it. We're going to do well in this campaign, my friend. We're going to win it, and it's going to be tight, and we're going to be up late.

To be precise, he guaranteed that it would be close and predicted a win. But what else were we to expect? That he would throw in the towel with just over a week left? That he would throw another Hail Mary and fire Palin on national TV? That, like other Republicans, he would endorse Obama?

But is the tightening? According to the Politico article linked above, there are indeed "signs of a tightening race, and reports of renewed determination among his staff." But the key sign is just one poll, from Reuters, C-SPAN, and Zogby, that shows Obama with just a five-point lead, a poll, given Zogby's involvement with it, that is totally unreliable. There does seem to be some tightening, but it's not nearly to the degree this polls suggests it is. It is at most a slight tightening, a slight move to McCain overall, though with Obama still well ahead. (Remember, there may be a tightening, but Obama had achieved an enormous lead in the polls, perhaps even reaching his maximum lead possible, at least in terms of the national polls. There was nowhere for the race to go but to get closer, if only by a fairly small amount.)

Indeed, as Nate Silver notes today, though "the balance of today's national polls contain better news for McCain, the balance of the state polls show Obama continuing to perform very well in several swing states." Consider:

-- Iowa: Obama +11, +15
-- New Hampshire: Obama +15
-- Pennsylvania: Obama +12
-- Virginia: Obama +9
-- Wisconsin: Obama +7

And McCain's only +4 in his home state of Arizona. The good news for McCain is that he's +1 in Missouri and +6 in West Virginia, but "that is not enough to prevent McCain's win percentage from drifting downward to 3.3 percent."

On the one hand, I'm sufficiently worried to stress that there is still over a week to go and that we mustn't let our guard down.

On the other hand, I have my doubts that the race is as close as some are now suggesting it is, not least because early voting seems to favour Obama overwhelmingly, because Obama has the ground campaigns to turn out the vote in massive numbers all across the country on election day, and because Obama has the resources to make a strong final push this week.

And, of course, because he's Obama. And because it's 2008. And because Americans want and need change -- the change Obama will bring to the White House (should be win) -- badly.

And because the McCain-Palin campaign seems to be in a state of bitter disarray, what with Palin herself "going rogue," the campaign preparing for defeat, and Republicans already playing the blame game, hurling accusations and recriminations at one another with ass-covering abandon.

No, it's not over yet, but there is good reason to remain confident even as we keep our focus on what needs to be done this final full week of the 2008 presidential campaign.

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  • I think when John McCain says, "it's going to be tight, and we're going to be up late", he means his campaign staff will be getting tight by slugging shots of whiskey, and for him, "up late" is after nine p.m. when he puts on his footie jammies, has his warm milk and Metamucil, and curls up with his G. Gordon Liddy action figure.

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