A new political map has been drawn, says The New York Times:

With just over eight weeks left until Election Day, the two sides are settling into an unusually broad set of state-by-state face-off...

The map is the same as ever, says The New York Times:

While McCain aides once believed that his appeal to independents might help him win a traditional Democratic state like New Jersey, and Obama aides thought their candidate’s broad appeal could be a lift in traditionally Republican ones like Montana, the emerging battlegrounds picked by both campaigns so far resemble the Bush-Kerry electoral map in 2004 and the Bush-Gore map in 2000.

Which Times piece is the reader to trust? Nevermind, actually, beause those quotes are from the same article.

Even more frusturating is that Patrick Healy and Michael Cooper, the reporters who wrote the story, seem to have been spun by the McCain campaign into believing that Sarah Palin will be a particular help...everywhere. The lede:

Fresh from the Republican convention, Senator John McCain’s campaign sees evidence that his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is energizing conservatives in the battleground of Ohio while improving its chances in Pennsylvania and several Western states that Senator Barack Obama has been counting on.

And:

Some campaign officials hope that Ms. Palin, an Alaskan, can broaden the ticket’s appeal in the Northwest, possibly gaining traction in states like Oregon and Washington, as well as shore up Mr. McCain’s standing with social conservatives who had, up to now, been lukewarm at best about his candidacy.

Okay, so Palin helps in the midwest, she helps on the West Coast, and she helps in western states, presumably Colorado and Nevada. And she shores up social conservatives, many of whom live in southern states where McCain has been running worse than Bush did in 2004. So Palin helps everywhere, except perhaps the northeast. The body of the piece suggests that the McCain campaign's spin won the day, and yet the story never actually sets forth the only obvious conclusion for the reader to reach: Palin is a huge, huge plus for John McCain.

--Isaac Chotiner