Is Pennsylvania John McCain's last, best hope?
Perhaps it is. But that speaks as much to McCain's problems elsewhere on the map as any success he has had in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania does seem to be narrowing a bit: the Muhlenberg / Morning Call tracker is now down to "only" a 10-point lead for Senator Obama, while a Strategic Vision poll puts the race at O +5. Strategic Vision has had a Republican lean and some very erratic polling in Pennsylvania all year, so our model treats that result as the equivalent of a +7 or a +8. Nevertheless, with little progress being made elsewhere, McCain will take what he can get.
Indeed, unlike other recent days, there is no good news for McCain in the national tracking polls. McCain gained a point in the Rasmussen tracker; the other seven all moved toward Obama, although by mere fractions of a point in the cases of Zogby and IBD/TIPP.
McCain’s most severe problems, however, remain at the state level:
As we alluded to this morning, the numbers from PPP out of Colorado and New Mexico, which used very large, list-based samples, are awful news for McCain in states where majorities of the electorate have already voted. Contrary to Rick Davis’s assertions, there is absolutely no reason to conclude that McCain is competitive in Iowa, and there is a slew of evidence that Obama is on track to win New Hampshire, even if the UNH Tracking Poll is now coming a bit off its outlier-ish numbers. Ohio is another big problem for McCain. Except for the Strategic Vision poll, everything else we’ve added to the database over the past several days shows Obama with leads ranging from 3 points to 16 (though the latter result, from Ohio University, looks very much like an outlier). In North Carolina, which seemed to be tightening last week, Obama now appears to be holding on to a very small lead, and much of that state has voted too.
So given this morass, Pennsylvania seems to be the one thing that McCain has to hang his hat on. But he remains very unlikely to win it, and even if he does, Obama has any number of firewall states that could preserve a victory for him. McCain’s win percentage is down to 2.8 percent, his lowest number of the year.