"February 3, 2008." That's how I began my speech to the CIBO annual meeting last night in Charlotte. "11.5," I added. "Remember that date and that number."
I did my act for about 25 minutes and then came back to the date and the number. February 3 was the date of Superbowl XLII between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.
The Patriots came into the game 18-0 and were 11-and-a-half point favorites to beat the Giants who were a mediocre 10-6 in the regular season.
The Giants hadn't even won their division. The Dallas Cowboys at 13-3 had cruised to that honor.
The Pats had already beaten the Giants in New York with its golden-boy quarterback Tom Brady. The Giant's quarterback was the lesser of the two Manning brothers - Eli - not the darling of TV commercial producers, brother Peyton was the Giant's quarterback.
No one in the near solar system thought the Giants had a prayer, hence the bookies made them 11.5 point underdogs.
But, on February 3, they actually played the game and the Giants won 17-14 and Eli Manning was voted the game MVP.
I bring this up because the McCain/Palin team finds itself in much the same position as the Giants. McCain/Palin is behind Obama/Biden by somewhere between one percentage point (IBD/TIPP) and 13 percentage points (CBS/NY Times) in polls released on October 22.
No poll has McCain/Palin ahead.
Just like betting on the New York Giants last February, it would be foolhardy to bet on McCain to win a week from Tuesday. No chance. No how. No way.
So, naturally, the popular press has decided the race for President of the United States is over. It has already been won by Barak Obama. Ta-Dah!
Obama might win the election. If the constant, funereal drumbeat of the popular press declaring McCain's loss becomes an article of faith among Republican and conservative independent voters, then Obama will win the election.
That is the nature of a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The declaration that the race is over is more insidious because, as we discussed the other day, Republicans will become discouraged and stay home, in effect punishing down-ballot candidates who will lose because GOP voters stayed home.
In the closing days of the race, the McCain campaign has to get persuadable voters to rethink their position on the two candidates. I was quoted in Newsday the other day as saying,
"The question the McCain campaign needs to have people asking themselves as they walk into the voting booth is, 'In a perilous world, is this the time to give the keys to the car to the guy who just got his learner's permit?'"
Which was a pretty good off-the-cuff remark so I won't try to improve on it.
But that isn't the question the popular press wants voters asking themselves, because it is a loser for Obama. The press corps wants voters asking themselves whether the Republican National Committee spent too much on Gov. Sarah Palin's cloths.
Remember, this is the same press corps which constantly chides the McCain campaign for being mean and petty.
No matter what, the election will be held on November 4 and shortly thereafter we will know who won. But we don't know now.
Any more than we knew who was going to win that football game last February when the teams were still in the locker room.