Rasmussen has published polls in New Jersey, Michigan and Washington State which show - as of now - John McCain is, at a minimum, competitive with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Whoever the Democratic nominee is, he or she cannot afford to lose either New Jersey, Michigan or Washington State.
I will repeat this, probably, twenty seven hundred times over the next seven months but all that matters on November 4 is the number 270. That is the number of electoral votes necessary to stand on the steps of the US Capitol building at noon on January 20, 2009 and take the oath of office as President of the United States.
A state's electoral votes is calculated by adding the number of Congressional Districts plus the number of US Senators (always two).
New Jersey, as an example, has 15 electors. Michigan has 17. Washington State has 11. Neither Hillary nor Barack is likely to get to the magic 270 without all three.
Why is this? It is because the two Democratic contenders, Hillary R. (!) Clinton and Barack H. (!) Obama, are slugging it out in Wilkes-Barre and Upper Macungie Township, Pennsylvania while John McCain is standing astride the world in places like Baghdad and Jerusalem.
On the air, my Democratic debate partners insist that the Clinton-Obama bloodletting will ultimately be good for their party in the Fall, I always ask this:
If this is such a good thing, why is every senior Democrat in Washington in a projectile sweat trying to figure out some mechanism to stop it?
That is generally when we go to a commercial.
Next bit of good news: The economy may have already bottomed out.
From the Associated Press last night:
Wall Street began the second quarter with a big rally Tuesday as investors rushed back into stocks, optimistic that the worst of the credit crisis has passed and that the economy is faring better than expected.
The Dow Jones industrials surged nearly 400 points, and all the major indexes were up more than 3 percent.
If, in the approximate words of my back-door neighbor James Carville, "It is ALWAYS the economy, stupid" then the economy may not be the crushing issue Democrats have been hoping for.
I have no idea what this means, but the AP also reported that: Wall Street got another boost when the Institute for Supply Management said its March index of national manufacturing activity rose to a reading of 48.6 -- indicating a contraction, but a slower one than in February and tamer than many analysts had predicted.
Government data on construction spending for February also came in better than expected.
The next bit of good news is that the Bush Administration, it turns out, has been working for about a year to bring the Federal regulatory mechanism into the 21st Century to match the new realities of how slick-haired, spread-collared, French-cuffed Wall Streeters do their work.
According to the NY Times:
In the past decade, there has been an explosion in complex derivative instruments, such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, which were intended primarily to transfer risk.
These products are virtually hidden from investors, analysts and regulators, even though they have emerged as one of Wall Street's most outsized profit engines. They don't trade openly on public exchanges, and financial services firms disclose few details about them.
According to that semi-official mouthpiece of the Bush Administration, National Public Radio:
[Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson's proposal is aimed at curbing the kinds of risky investments that led to the current credit crisis, like the widespread use of complex mortgage-backed securities.
Naturally, economic geniuses like Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct) who is the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee complained the plan was "a wild pitch" but Politico.com pointed out that the basis of Dodd's opposition became clear when he was caught "grumbling that he was not consulted."
Rules to Live By: Never underestimate the size of the ego of a sitting United States Senator.
Final bit of good news: This was the headline in the Washington Post: "Clinton Vows to Stay in Race to Convention"
"I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention -- that's what credentials committees are for."
You go girl!
Absolutely last bit of good news: The Washington Nationals have won their first two games and are on pace to go 162-0 this season.