McCain Bets It All On Pennsylvania

Posted: October 21, 2008 in 2008 Elections, John McCain
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CNN’s John King (via kos):

Most people top in the McCain campaign now believe New Mexico and Iowa are gone, that Barack Obama will win New Mexico and Iowa. They are now off the dream list of the McCain campaign. More interestingly, most top people inside the McCain campaign think Colorado is gone.

So they are now finishing with a very risky strategy. Win Florida. Win Nevada … And here is the biggest risk of all — yes they have to win North Carolina, yes they have to win Ohio, yes they have to win Virginia, trailing or dead-even in all those states right now. But they are betting Wolf on coming back and taking the state of Pennsylvania. It has become the critical state now in the McCain electoral scenario. And they are down 10, 12, and even 14 points in some polls there. But they say as Colorado, Iowa and other states drift away, they think they have to take a big state. 21 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, Wolf, watch that state over the next few weeks.

Look at where the candidates are spending their time, money, and resources at this point two weeks out from the election. McCain is betting it all on Pennsylvania at this point. It is the lynchpin of his electoral strategy and the only blue state he is seriously contesting at this point, while still pursuing traditional swing states like Ohio, Florida and Missouri and playing defense in Virginia and North Carolina. Obama is spending the rest of the campaign in red states that either went for Bush the last two elections or have become newly competitive swing states in this cycle. He also must be feeling pretty good about his chances in Wisconsin, because he cancelled a campaign event there to focus on more competitive states.

Can Obama get to the White House without Pennsylvania? Yes, but he will have to either win Florida or a combination of smaller states (Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, and/or Colorado) to make up the difference. But McCain’s firewall is stretched thin as it is, and if he fails to take Pennsylvania and Obama wins any of those red states, it’s game over.

Update: According to the Washington Post, Obama canceled campaign events in Wisconsin and Iowa to go to Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother.

Update II: You can read John King’s full wire note here.

Update III: The McCain camp is pushing back on this report, according to Jonathan Martin. But it’s interesting to note the similarity with the story reported by Marc Ambinder a few days ago that the NRSC was pulling out of Colorado, only to have that report challenged as well. Are there mixed messages going on between the campaign management and the people on the ground, or are they trying to save face 2 weeks before the election so the base doesn’t get discouraged?

  1. […] He may as well write off Pittsburgh and Philadelphia at this point and hope he can make up the difference in the rest of the state, although polls show him trailing Obama. Not a smart thing for a candidate to say in any state, but especially so in the one on which your entire election strategy is dependent on. […]

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