Playing Defense

Posted: October 13, 2008 in 2008 Elections, John McCain, Sarah Palin
Tags: , ,

If somebody had told me a year ago that I’d be looking at poll numbers hinting at a close race in North Dakota, I would have told them to get their heads examined. These numbers seem like an outlier to me, but if McCain has to spend time and resources defending North Dakota, he’s screwed.

Barack Obama is shown with an edge against John McCain in a North Dakota presidential race that has narrowed to a statistical tie, according to a new Forum poll.

The survey shows Obama squeaking past McCain, 45 percent to 43 percent, a lead that falls within the poll’s margin of error and therefore indicates a dead heat, according to political analysts.

Still up for grabs: undecided voters, comprising 12 percent.

“It’s a statistical tossup,” said Jim Danielson, co-director of the Public Affairs Institute at Minnesota State University Moorhead, which conducted the statewide telephone survey for The Forum. Pollsters contacted 606 likely North Dakota voters by telephone Oct. 6-8.

The poll indicates McCain’s once-comfortable lead in North Dakota has melted away as Obama is the widely favored choice among voters who consider the economy the most pressing issue.

I repeat what I said before – the candidates’ itineraries often speak volumes about the state of the race and the morale inside their campaigns:

Things aren’t looking much better in Indiana:

(CNN) – Sarah Palin will campaign in Indiana for the first time Friday, the latest sign this once solidly-red state could be up for grabs this year.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain has already visited the state once, speaking at a law enforcement conference in Indianapolis this summer. Palin’s visit will also be in the Indianapolis area, the McCain-Palin campaign confirmed.

The Democratic ticket has visited the state half a dozen times. Last week, Barack Obama drew an estimated crowd of more than 20,000 at the state fairgrounds.

And they’re now playing catch-up in North Carolina and Virginia:

(CNN) — John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning Monday in two states that haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades, a clear indication the GOP ticket is scrambling to defend longtime Republican strongholds with only three weeks until Election Day.

But at a time when the McCain campaign had hoped to have shored up its support in the traditional red states, a string of new surveys show Obama has made significant gains there as voters become increasingly worried about the nation’s financial woes.

McCain and Palin held a joint rally in Virginia Beach Monday morning before the two candidates split up, as the Republican nominee heads down to North Carolina as his running mate stays behind for more events in Virginia. It’s only the second time McCain has made visits to either state in more than four months, and comes as a series of battleground surveys suggest his playing field is increasingly shrinking.

As I’ve said repeatedly – Barack Obama’s road to 270 is expanding, while McCain’s is stagnant or shrinking. If the trends remain constant for the rest of the campaign, McCain will have to come up with the Electoral College equivalent of an inside straight if he has any chance of winning in three weeks.

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