From McCain’s point of view, polls have been steadily deteriorating over the last two weeks. Simulations being run of possible outcomes show a steady and significant increase in the likelihood of a decisive Obama win. Consistent with this, my daily survey of polling and swing-state tilt may have reached a tipping point.
Today, two key states that had been leaning McCain are now leaning Obama – Nevada and Virginia. Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida have moved from solidly McCain to leaning McCain.
New Hampshire and Ohio – until today leaning McCain – are now looking like tossups. Going back to the 269 to 269 post, it was clear that, barring an unpredictable flip in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania, there was no way to make the math work for McCain if he loses Ohio. Not possible.
Other than taxes, McCain hopes that foreign policy is his trump card, and the subject of tonight’s debate is foreign policy. Tonight may be McCain’s moment, the turning point after many false starts: the thwarted Lieberman gambit; the Palin gambit; the “I’d fire the Chairman of the SEC gambit”; the “I’m suspending my campaign gambit”; the “I’m going to Washington to get this legislation done” gambit; the “I’m postponing the Friday September 26th Debate” gambit.
If Obama can win the debate in the eyes of the people of Ohio or Florida, that is, if the trend continues to move toward Obama in one or both of these two states, it may be impossible for McCain to prevent a landslide loss.
If that happens, we’ll start talking about just how long Obama’s coat tails in the Congressional and Senate races are going to be, and whether the Republican Party is facing a real prospect of being in effect a regional rather than a national political party.