How John McCain Can Make It a Fight, Again
John McCain operative Steve Schmidt’s claim “we have ‘em just where we want ‘em” is delusional.
Now unless Mr. Schmidt is an Obama double-agent, trailing the national polls by no less than 8 points and tanking in many states McCain cannot win the White House without carrying is not encouraging.
Let me paint a picture…or rather, draw you a map of where things stand at this point of the race.
The Arizonan is not leading in ANY…that’s ZERO…of the states that either Al Gore or John Kerry won in their campaigns. The most promising as of late was Minnesota, the site of the Republican National Convention and a state that has not gone to the GOP in a presidential race since Richard M. Nixon buried George McGovern in 1972. But the Land of a Gazillion Lakes is not looking too promising at the moment, but then again neither do THE critical six states George W. Bush carried in 2000 and 2004.
McCain is trailing Obama in Virginia (13), Florida (27), Missouri (11), Ohio (20), Nevada (5) and Colorado (9). Recent polls also show Obama with a slight lead in North Carolina (15), but I don’t buy that state moving to the Democratic presidential side even if they simultaneously eject Liddy Dole as US Senator. Besides, if North Carolina can’t be won, then the election is already lost.
Going back to the aforementioned critical six, though McCain won’t do any worse than lose half, just losing one of them without replacing it with a combination of New Mexico (5), New Hampshire (4) and/or Maine’s Second congressional district (pending on which one of the six goes “Blue”) means it’s over.
So as of right now, John McCain has a margin of error of practically zilch and thus needs to run the tables to just score the minimum of electoral votes to win, which is like counting on recovering three consecutive on-sides kicks in football to rally from a 21-0 deficit in the 4th quarter with less than 5 minutes remaining.
Some conservatives have cried about cooked polling samples that don’t measure the probable electorate on November 4th; I say, barring the Wilder-Bradley factor, the public opinion surveys are probably accurate.
Turnout is going to be through the roof election day and it is possible that black voters will match or exceed their actual registration proportions (for example, if 20% of the registered voters in a state are black, the surge in actual participation could mean that segment will count for over 20% of ballots cast there).
There will be other factors in play for the Democratic ticket but I’ll delve into those at a later date.
So after once leading Obama after the convention, why are things so bad for McCain right now?
1) It’s the stupid economy.
2) Failure by the McCain campaign to fully utilize Sarah Palin’s potential as the game changer.
3) McCain’s histrionics preceding the first debate, implying his incapacity to multi-task.
4) McCain’s horrible performance in the last presidential debate, perhaps the worst by a Republican presidential nominee since Gerry Ford denied the existence of Soviet domination in eastern Europe.
5) Obama’s decision to eschew from accepting matching-funds and the spending limits it imposes while McCain made what could be the fatal decision to “stand on principle” by allowing his Democratic opponent to amass a 2 -3 to 1 financial advantage over him.
Wednesday night, McCain will have his last chance to speak directly to the
American people, though thanks to his bursting campaign treasury Obama will have another right before the election thanks to a 30-minute television time bloc he purchased.
McCain must use this opportunity to frame the next three weeks of the election by hitting the following points:
1) Go after Obama’s Posse: The cast of characters that the Illinois senator has associated with, from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayers to James Johnson, a former CEO of Fannie Mae that served on Obama’s running-mate advisory committee. McCain needs to target those figures on the other side of the TelePrompTer that were with Obama on his way up and who will be major players in his administration.
2) Throw Dubya Under the Bus: McCain was so good at doing it during the good times, why not now? The president’s dismal approval ratings are not helping the GOP cause in the race for the White House or any other federal election for that matter. Highlight how a McCain-Palin Administration will be different from the current Bush-Cheney regime without undercutting the party base. It’s possible though it must be accomplished with a scalpel and not a chainsaw.
3) Talk about Stuff That Actually Matters: McCain lost the nomination in 2000 in part by trying to make people care about campaign finance reform. Now he seems to be going in the same direction about earmarks. Obama deftly put the earmarks matter in perspective by comparing them to the size of the overall budget. The hoi polloi aren’t interested in which candidate cuts more coupons than they are with big picture stuff.
4) The 3 AM Wake Up Call: It almost worked for Hillary aside from the fact that Democratic primary voters don’t put much stock in such things as ability and experience , but McCain must not only make the case why he is most prepared but why Obama would be a disaster as a war time leader.
5) Sound Like a Conservative for Once: McCain could help remind the party base the consequences of an Obama Administration on right-to-life and his opposition to banning partial birth abortion. It should be recalled Obama flubbed his answer on this issue at the Saddleback Church forum. McCain must make Obama talk about things he either doesn't want to or lacks a prepared answered for. Ditto on guns.
6) Demonstrate Democratic Culpability for the Bad Economy: Right now the voters are blaming the GOP alone for the current sad state of economic affairs when the fingerprints of Democratic congressmen and big dollar donors are all over the Fannie Mae and the housing market crash. Also rather than simply poking at how the mechanics of Obama's proposals are constantly shifting, show how his numbers simply don't work and how it's all blue smoke and mirrors to bluff the public en route to the presidency.
If McCain does a repeat of the abysmal so-called “Town Hall” debate, Barack
and Michelle can start thumbing through brochures for Washington’s most elite exclusive, private schools for their two daughters.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana. He can be reached at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.