Is It Over, Part III | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Is It Over, Part III

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From the New York Times:

MIAMI — As Mr. McCain enters this closing stretch, his aides — as well as some outside Republicans and even a few Democrats — argue that he still has a viable path to victory. “The McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush one week before the election of 2000,” said Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s chief strategist. “We have ground to make up, but we believe we can make it up.”

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released Thursday, showed Senator Barack Obama consolidating his lead over Mr. McCain among many groups of voters, underscoring the degree of difficulty facing the McCain team with just 11 days left in the campaign. Even the most hearty of the McCain supporters acknowledge that it will not be easy, and there are a considerable number of Republicans who say, off the record, that the 2008 cake is baked. At this point in the campaign, Mr. McCain’s hopes of victory may rest on events over which he simply does not have control. Still, there do seem to be enough question marks hovering over this race that it is not quite time for Mr. McCain to ride his bus back to Arizona. “It’s an uphill battle,” said Karl Rove, who was the chief strategist for President Bush going back to Mr. Bush’s first run for governor in 1994. “But I remember seven days out from the Texas gubernatorial race, and everybody was like, ‘It’s all over, we’re cooked!’ And we won by seven points.” Here are what Mr. McCain’s advisers are watching hopefully (and Mr. Obama’s are watching warily) as the contest enters its final days.

States

Mr. McCain’s advisers said the key to victory was reeling back those Republican states where Mr. Obama has them on the run: Florida, where Mr. McCain spent Thursday; Indiana; Missouri; North Carolina; Ohio; and Virginia. If he can hang on to all those states as well as others that are reliably red, he would put into his column 260 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win. Mr. McCain’s advisers said they would look for the additional electoral votes they need either by taking Pennsylvania from the Democrats, or putting together some combination of Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

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