As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, October 06, 2008

This Is No Longer An Election

It's a fight that should be called.

John McCain went nasty today in New Mexico, basically arguing that his opponent is a shiftless and lazy hustler who will appoint Stevie Wonder Secretary of Fine Arts and Miss Aretha Franklin First Lady. He somehow also accused Obama of not being committed ENOUGH to the bailout, and today seems like the complete wrong day to bring that up.

McCain is fighting like a cornered animal, and his right hand is bringing forth the fearmongering as well. Suddenly we've gone from "I'm suspending my campaign to focus on this financial crisis" to "screw the financial crisis, Barack knows a guy who knows a guy who hates America!" in the space of two weeks. That's because the trend lines are awful, and McCain's people know it. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose," said an aide today.

But if you think you can forget about the economy at a time with this much economic pain out there, just look at the polls. Obama is up by double digits in New Hampshire, and incredibly, he has the same kind of lead in Virginia, according to two polls.

As McCain's Lead Among White Virginians Shrinks, So Too His Chances of Holding The State's 13 Electoral Votes: 29 days until votes are counted in Virginia, Democrat Barack Obama is ahead 53% to 43%, according to this SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, WJLA-TV in Washington DC, WTVR-TV in Richmond, and WJHL-TV in the Tri-Cities. In 4 tracking polls conducted since the Republican Convention, McCain has gone from up by 2 to down by 10.

There is movement among men, where immediately after the GOP convention, McCain led by 10, and where today Obama leads by 11.
There is movement among whites, where McCain's once 22-point lead is today reduced to single digits.
There is movement among the well-to-do, where today for the first time Obama leads.
There is movement among pro-choice voters, where Obama's lead has doubled since August.

The attempts to bring Obama into question may work at the margins, but the fundamentals make this a nearly impossible task for McCain.

And this is impacting the Congressional picture as well. Kay Hagan is now well out in front of Elizabeth Dole, and in Georgia, Jim Martin has pulled even with Saxby Chambliss.

That means that we can now add the Georgia Senate seat to the ranks of top-tier races, in addition to the 10 existing ones (VA, NM, AK, CO, NH, NC, OR, KY, MN, and MS-B).

Suddenly, the wisdom of a real 50-state strategy becomes obvious yet again: the Obama camp set out to register 500,000 new voters in the state. And while Obama may not win this state this year (he will in 2012), we may pick up a Senate seat because of those efforts.

This is due to hard work, a 50-state strategy, and incredible gains in voter registration throughout the country, which was a major point of emphasis for the Obama campaign over the summer.

Virginia, for example, has logged more than 300,000 new voters since the year began. The state does not record party affiliation, but it says that 41% of the new registrants are under the age of 25, and an additional 20% are between the ages of 25 and 34.

The influx of young voters, a core part of Obama's voting coalition, is an encouraging sign for the Democratic nominee in a state that has not picked a Democrat for president in more than 40 years.

"This is exactly what we needed to do to change the electorate in Virginia in order to put Sen. Obama in a position where he could win the state," said Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager.

In Nevada, another Republican state that Obama is trying to move into the Democratic column, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 80,000, according to figures posted by the state in September, before the voter registration deadline last Saturday. Four years ago, Republicans held a registration edge of 4,431.

Democratic registration has ballooned in Pennsylvania, presenting a challenge to Republicans who hoped to swing the state to their column. Obama's party now outnumbers Republicans by nearly 1.15 million registered voters. In the 2004 election, the margin was about 580,000; in 2000, it was 486,000.

In Georgia's early voting, part of another key strategy of the Obama campaign to bank votes, 39 percent of the electorate is African-American thus far. These are tremendous numbers and the campaign must be very happy.

The headwinds are very rough for McCain. He's running a conventional Republican smear and fear campaign in an unconventional, disruptive year with crises roiling on unfavorable Republican territory. It's not so much that Obama is running a great campaign (it's great compared to recent Democratic history), but that there's a kind of regression to the mean of where this election is fated to go.

There's of course one caveat here, which I'll take up in a later post.

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