Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does the Road to the White House Really Go Through PA?

A Captain Renault post: The newspapers, cable news channels and blogs are full of stories today about McCain making a "last stand" in PA in his attempt for a come back, upset victory on the road to the White House. We will soon know whether this is a brilliant strategy or a final act of desperation from the McCain campaign.

All the polls I have looked at in the last few days have Obama winning if the election were today by an average of 7.5 points. My view is that this appears to be a very shaky strategy at best and a sure sign of the almost impossible path to victory and 270 electoral college votes for McCain. Many people are reporting and commenting on the various reasons for the strategy. Lots of the assumptions made by the reporters and commentators sound far-fetched to me but the whole gambit is far-fetched. Check this guy (Al Giordano) out for as good an explanation and assumption as anyone else.

While many are reporting on McCain's last stand in PA I just wanted to point out the obvious but often overlooked political point about the McCain strategy -- a point overlooked because of the understandable focus on the race for President to the exclusion of other candidates on the ballot. Whether or not McCain makes a serious play in PA on the national strategic chess board with have HUGE implications on the downballot races. If McCain does in fact make PA his must-win state both the McCain and Obama campaigns will make almost every precinct in PA ground zero for voter contact and GOTV efforts in these final weeks.

Some State House, State Senate, and even the statewide campaigns for AG and Treasurer will likely be decided by what financial and human resources decisions the Presidential campaigns make in these final two weeks. The close and determinative state house races for example are often decided by 500 votes or less out of 25,000 - 30,000 votes cast. Tom Corbett won statewide in 2004 by 109,000 votes out of 5.4 million votes cast. So despite his name recognition and campaign war chest advantages, the ultra-partisan Corbett could very well find himself on the wrong side of the partisan divide. Now -- that would be real justice!

More on the down ballot races later...developing.

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