Obama End-Game Plan

We are now under 14 days until the election and the the end-game is coming into clearer focus now.  There are two possible ways this election can wind down as win for McCain.  The first is a cataclysmic event occurs in the campaign.  Under that scenario, a terrorist attack, another stock market drop, or natural disaster-type event reshuffles the cards.  The problem with this scenario is it doesn't necessarily mean that McCain would benefit.  Through three debates and a steadiness during the intial days of the economic crisis, Obama has shown that he has the leadership skills to deal with such an event.  Powell's endorsement gives him international 'cred'.  McCain may still benefit from an international crisis, but that is not a forgone conclusion.

The second way McCain can get back into this race and win is through a systematic march through the Electoral College finding a narrow strategy to win the race.  Under this strategy, there is a very real chance, being down by nearly 7% in the National polls, he'd walk away with the Electoral College but not the popular vote.  So, how likely is it that McCain can win, assuming the current electoral maps are accurate?  For my analysis, I am using the Pollster.com map.  Currently, the map shows Obama with 286 Electoral votes in his column, McCain has 157, and 95 votes are toss-ups. Unfortunately, my blog will not allow me to include the embedded image.

The toss-ups include: Nevada (5 EV), Montana (3 EV), North Dakota (3 EV), Missouri (11 EV), Indiana (11 EV), Ohio (20 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), Florida (27 EV)

Obama is currently leading in Nevada, North Dakota, Misouri, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida.

McCain needs to find 113 Electoral votes.  Even if he was to win all eight of these toss-up states (of which Obama leads in 6), he still would need to find 18 more votes.  His primary choice is to go after Pennsylvania and it's 21 Electoral Votes. The only other truly viable option is pull back Colorado (9 EV), Nevada (5 EV) and one more state (possibly Iowa).  There are some other options, such as Virginia (13 EV) and Nevada (EV 5).


As is obvious, McCain has an uphill battle.  His campaign has basically said his strategy will be to try and win Pennsylvania.  If he is able to win Pennsylvania AND win all eight toss-up states, he will win the election.  But, right now Pollster.com has a 13 point advantage for Obama in PA, and about three point leads in North Carolina and Florida.  Those fall within the margin of error, but still shows that it's a dogfight.

Obama has a lot of advantages right now.  He's got probably twice the money, leads in nearly all the toss-up states, leads in Pennsylvania, already has 270 Electoral Votes 'in the bank', and 13 days left.  So what's his strategy for those 13 days?  It's not running out the clock.  His primary strategy is to continue to attack.  He'll use his money advantage across all the toss-up states to get his message out.  Additionally, he'll attack states like West Virginia, Georgia and maybe Louisiana that are still leaning McCain, but teetering.  This will force McCain to spend time and resources to defend those states.  Here's Obama's trump card - if things get tight, he can focus only on maintaining Pennsylvania.  Pouring money, time and resources into Pennsylvania - if his lead begins to dissipate, this strategy should be able to stem the tide.

So, that goes back to McCain's to possible ways of winning - a cataclysmic change in the electorate landscape or a steady march.  Looking at the facts, maybe McCain's best chance is a big event.







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