I emailed some of my smartest political friends and asked them if McCain can win -- and if so -- what he needs to do tonight. Here are a few of the most interesting responses. As you'll see, these folks are very worried about McCain's chances, and generally believe that things are out of his control -- meaning that the environment will determine who wins.
One respected consultant tells me this:
I don't think there is anything he can do. I also don't think the race is over. The question is just how big a hole the economy is in, and how people react to it. If they blame us/Republicans/McCain he can't win. And i don't think it matters what he says.
One young Ohio conservative writes this:
Greetings Matt! I just voted for him, which was painful. Spent the last week camped out outside of a Columbus stadium where college students and homeless people were being shoveled into the polls for Ohio's first week ever allowing for registering and voting on the same day. The homeless were offered food, and often were left stranded. I think McCain loses Ohio no matter what.... so can he win without it?
I was also at the Bruce Springsteen concert at OSU on Sunday, and the board of elections kept a location early on purpose so they could drag thousands of students into the voting booths.
Also, the word is that regardless of the HAVA laws, Secretary Brunner has absolutely no interest in checking if people are voting in multiple counties or states. Last week, I could have registered at my parents house and voted twice- With the new rules and with lack of staff, there is no way they would have caught me.
One talented young operative offered this strategy:
Look, all the inside polling is saying that the economic crisis is killing Bush and it attached itself to McCain. If the race is about Obama, McCain has a chance. If the race is about the economy, it's going Obama.... McCain has to be on offense tonight, has to hit the points he hit in Albuquerque yesterday. He has to get the media to focus on that. If he doesn't, the road gets more difficult with each day.
Another smart young operative fears an Obama landslide:
He needs an “event”. Either a national or international one or a significant Obama gaffe tonight (or at some point throughout the duration of the campaign). Since he can only indirectly control the gaffe, he needs to try to force Senator Obama into one tonight. Easier said than done and frankly I’m not sure how he does that. right now it seems like the middle/moderates/independents (however you want to classify that group) seems to favor and want more government during these scary and uncertain times so to try to hit him on standard higher taxes/big government is not likely to be very impact.
Not sure how much has been written about this, but I’m fearing an Obama/Dem landslide next month with an outside chance of 310 electoral votes and 61 or 62 Dems in the Senate. There’s a lot of time left I realize, but the trend is not good. Also, keep an eye on Dem turnout operations. Not saying they’ll be better than GOP, but likely to be better than 04 and much better than 2000.