The Panic Room: What's With McCain's Pennsylvania Gambit?

By Al Giordano

John King at CNN reported yesterday afternoon that the McCain campaign has all but pulled out of Colorado.

Jonathan Martin at Politico then quoted the Republican presidential candidate's advisors insisting that it's not the case, that they're still on the airwaves to the tune of half-a-million dollars a week there.

(And, after all, wasn't that Governor Palin campaigning in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Loveland just yesterday?)

True or false, the McCain camp has to push back and deny it, or face a backlash - as it did when word leaked out it had abandoned Michigan - from local GOP leaders and voters, making defeat in that state a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Colorado, of late, has consistently been among the top three "tipping point" states listed by 538 based on the results of 10,000 scenarios being hashed by computers and analyzed by Nate Silver. So what's the deal?

First of all, any strategy leaked or pried from the McCain campaign is suspect because its strategy keeps changing. Suspending one's campaign in Colorado may just indicate another erratic mood swing - like last month's announced "suspension" of the entire campaign and the first debate, which never really came to pass - to be flirted with only to fickly go on to the next new "strategy" a couple days later. Strategic flailing seems to be the norm at this point (and it has poisoned the "maverick" message because people start to observe that, in this case, maverick equals an unsteady hand in the face of adversity, or, "maverick = flake").

But here's what I think is going on at McCain strategy central: They're getting tired of the daily drumbeat on cable TV news and by newspaper pundits that says things like, "here are the six or seven swing states, all of them voted for Bush in 2004, Obama is winning or tied in most of them, and for McCain to win he has to run the table, taking every single one of them or it's over."

That message - that there is only one narrow Electoral College path to victory for McCain, while there are multiple ones for Obama - has cast a deathly spell over the GOP base's enthusiasm, which is now being reflected in paltry early voting numbers by Republican voters, especially in Nevada and North Carolina. And so they're trying to offer the faithful a belief in the suggestion that McCain, too, has multiple paths to win.

The senior staff seems to think it has convinced McCain to drop his reluctance to play the race card, with trial balloons afloatin' that Obama's ex-reverend will get an encore in the coming days in negative ads and such.

And if they're really going to go there - to try to make the campaign about race and, specifically, some white people's fears of pigmentation - then it would make total sense for McCain to temporarily ignore Colorado, where that message ain't gonna hunt, and shift focus to Appalachia and the South: Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and, yes, Pennsylvania and even Florida being the swing states where racially charged politics have sometimes, in the past, worked for the Republicans, or, in Appalachia, where they worked for the Clintons during the primaries.

Here's the McCain map that such a strategy would try to create:

That would give McCain 286 Electoral Votes to 252 for Obama... and the presidency.

And it the scenario includes some padding, in that it allows Obama to win one of the states in play without winning the Electoral College. For example, if Obama were to win Virginia's 13 Electoral Votes but McCain took the rest of the "red" states in play, that would bring Obama only to 265 - five EVs short of the 270 needed for victory.

However, those five votes are there for Obama, waiting for the end of Election Night when Nevada comes rolling in: because if McCain is really going to try to make the final stretch of this campaign an orgy of race-baiting and code-speak, that's just going to piss off enough voters in the West (and as we mentioned yesterday, new voter registration and early voting in Nevada makes it more likely an Obama state).

But let's say that happens, that McCain pulls off the upset in Pennsylvania but Obama takes Virginia and Nevada - it's then Obama 270 to 268 for McCain, right? Not so fast: What if McCain then wins Maine's Second Congressional District? I've argued all summer and fall that it's possible. Then you have a 269 to 269 tie in the Electoral College:

The US House - with each state's delegation having a single vote - would then pick the president and the new Senate would pick the veep: a scenario that invites chaos and would make it substantially more difficult for a President Obama to govern if he were to be chosen by the Congress instead of by the people. I can just imagine Schmidt and Davis and the rest of the wiseguys at Camp McCain sneering with delight at such a scenario: well, we couldn't win, but we sure did screw them for governing!

Of course, McCain would still have to win Pennsylvania (and Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, each and every one) to accomplish that. (Or somehow pull off a victory in New Hampshire - a dangerous state for either side to take for granted, as we saw last January - which would provide a couple more "tie" scenarios in the Electoral College.)

But here's what the McCain campaign might be up to: It may be trying to create an undue focus on Pennsylvania, as if it is the most important state, more like a primary, putting the spotlight of the national media upon it. There, particularly in the western part of the state, you have those voters Jack Murtha called "racist" and "elderly" (a gaffe is often a gaffe because it suggests an uncomfortable or taboo truth), but also in places like Northern Philadelphia and Bensalem, where McCain was this morning.

Basically, McCain will try to relive the April 22 Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania: a reappearance by Rev. Wright and Obama's "bitter" comments in paid TV ads combined with a tightening of poll numbers (Obama is unlikely to remain at the 15.3 percent lead that he enjoys in the average, so it will tighten up even without a push by McCain.)

So here is the narrative that McCain will try to compose: His folks have leaked to the media that they're abandoning Colorado (while not abandoning it) and putting all the chips down on Pennsylvania. He and Palin will barnstorm the state while some 527 group puts a Rev. Wright "god damn America" ad on the air and the polling numbers will begin to close, if even just a little bit, providing the media with a red meat storyline that the descent into nasty is "working" in PA.

That scenario - while it still might not mean that McCain wins Pennsylvania - would galvanize morale among his troops nationwide, including in places like Colorado (and perhaps even Minnesota and Wisconsin).

It would be very similar to how McCain skipped the Iowa caucuses - letting Huckabee beat Romney up there - and focused on the New Hampshire primary five days later.

It's a risky strategy (to which Rudy Giuliani - who skipped Iowa and New Hampshire to put all his cards on Florida - can attest), because it relies on generating some buzz that McCain would be closing in on a possible victory in Pennsylvania. But there are enough gullible and insincere political reporters out there in need of a storyline, and Ron Fournier - McCain's pro-bono-almost "senior advisor" at Associated Press - could still be brought up from the bench to apply his signature racial arson to the circus.

On the other hand, such a scenario would invite an equal and opposite reaction from Obama supporters: If they became convinced that Pennsylvania was in danger of going "red," you'd see the "flake rate" lessen very quickly and busloads of supporters from NY, NJ and MD flock into the Keystone State to staff the trenches.

The other thing that I'm sure the McCain strategists are banking on is a repeat of what happened regarding polling in 2004, where, particularly East of and along the Mississippi, Bush overperformed polling results. Dkos diarist ystasino did a nice recap of this factor the other day:

The Republican ticket in 2004 overperformed the final two-week polling average by 3.68 percent in Florida, 2.25 percent in Virginia, 1.53 percent in Ohio, and two percent in Missouri, whereas Kerry, the Democrat, overperformed the polling average by 2.89 in Nevada, 0.7 in Colorado and 0.49 in New Mexico.

What power, if any, do you, as a rank and file person, have over this scenario? The answer is simple: That narrative depends on your panic and the reappearance of Chicken Little-ism on the Obama side of the barricades, and on his troops taking the election for granted and not redoubling efforts for the final push, particularly in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana, and, yes, even in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Maine's Second CD.

In other words, the gambit may get some media traction, but it can't work unless it instills panic and anger (over the heightened racial arson to be attempted) in Obama's supporters in a way that knocks the field organization off it's game. It can only work if you fall for it and become its unwitting dupe and participant.



Please, please put this over

Please, please put this over at the dailykos. they are seriously in need of chicken little inoculation. I agree with you a 100%- this is not itme to panic and frankly there is no time to panic and be scared either. Here, in Houston we are working our behind's off.  I can say with some confidence that we are very competitive here.

ever since I started volunteering for the campaign, I feel much better about our chances overall. Call it a quiet optimism. and Al I don't feel like a chicken little at all.

We are headed to the Western slope of Colorado

this weekend, from Salt Lake, to volunteer for the Obama campaign. The coordinator of the border states effort indicates it is in sore need of volunteers. It makes us feel like we will really make a difference and is a good use of those of us in non-swing states.

It does seem counter-logical for the McCain campaign to work on holding Pennsylvania given the polls. I would assume that will help fire up the volunteers there and in the border states effort - so it could be a wash. Perhaps he is helping the Obama campaign at this point by focusing so much on it, so loudly.


Obama's not biting

This is an attempt to change the national narrative; not a realistic hope of swinging PA.  McCain needs good polling this week in some state and PA is as good a bet as any since Obama's had some really fantastic numbers there lately.  He needs to latch onto slippage somewhere -- anywhere -- and use that as a base to launch attacks for the last week of the campaign.  Ayers didn't work because he launched it out of a position of profound weakness.  McCain's campaign tried to change the narrative last week by getting Drudge et al to focus on a point or two of movement in cherry-picked tracking polls, but it didn't work.  He's throwing as much time and money as possible into the state with the softest strong Obama support that'd been written off for some time with the hope that it'll rebound by five points or so in any given poll and give him evidence to point to that he's on the comeback trail.

From that point, he can double down on Ayers (and "denounce" 527s inevitably running 30-second ads featuring nothing but Wright in PA, OH, VA, FL, etc) for the last week and hope to stoke some fear of an Obama presidency.  I don't think it'll work even if everything goes perfectly for McCain, but it definitely won't work if the press is sufficiently critical of McCain's claims of a Pennsylvania comeback.  Will his claims be matched by any actual GOTV spending?  Will they cherry-pick single polls or actually show a change in the broader average?

The fact is, Obama's not buying McCain's ploy.  In the early days of the campaign I would, in Baltimore, get far more calls to go canvass and register voters in York, PA than northern Virginia.  I haven't heard about York in a month and a half, and haven't gotten a request this week despite McCain's new strategy.  It's a gambit about changing perception temporarily to fake a change in momentum, not about changing the map.

Don't forget NE-2

If you're going to bring up the EV in Maine, then you need to bring up the EV available in Nebraska, which the Obama campaign is going all out for.

Imaginary Dangers

I really think complacency is a much more serious concern at this point that "chicken littlism," whatever that by-now rather overused term means at this point.

Obama's campaign has proven throughout this race to be enormously effective.  Everyone seems to have caught on to that fact.  Though there quite naturally are--and will be more--expressions of concern as national polls do some normal tightening and McCain focuses his resources in ways that move certain state numbers, I really don't see any of the sort of panic that questions Obama's strategy on dKos or anywhere else. Though I should add that, back when that sort of panic did appear on dKos and elsewhere, I always thought it was relatively irrelevant precisely because it has never--and will never--knock the Obama campaign off its game.  So much for chicken-littlism (as I understand it at any rate).

Complacency is a bigger potential problem.  If the Obama campaign were somehow robbed of the resources (financial and human) to continue its extraordinary ground game, there could be dire results.  I don't see this happening, either, but I think it's a more real possibility than some as-yet-unseen revival of "chicken littlism" that will, unlike its previous incarnations, somehow affect the Obama campaign.

At any rate, the supposed symptom of "chicken-littlism", i.e. activists' and voters' worrying about November 4, seems to me to be more of a feature than a bug for Obama at this point.

But if you're worried and, in order to conquer your worry, you need to convince yourself that worry itself is the enemy, by all means crow about "chicken-littlism."

But the truth is that the sky isn't falling!

Thanks for heads up to potential media/mccain narrative change

I'm just not seeing how this can happen. I'm sure the media will try to change the narrative to reflect this all but impossible scenario.  So thanks for giving me the heads up; I'll be watching for media/McCain campaign to remake this as "too close to call" razor sharp contest. 

P.S. Obama visiting his ailing grandmother and cancelling campaign events will go far with Florida senior vote.  I don't mean to be crass about his family, but all grandparents out there will no doubt warmly appreciate and support his decision.  

P.P.S. I'm in Charlotte North Carolina and have voted early.  Many, many dems are doing so.    


IMHO there are more people worrying and warning about complacency than there are people actually being complacent. Confidence is not complacency.

I think the astonishing $150 million in September was inspired by the Palin pick and McCain's strength much of the month (even if it was an entirely predictable convention bounce). That got people really fired up.

The problem is, it is simply not possible for most people to maintain that level of intensity for more than two months. There is bound to be some "flakiness" just because people are being burned out. That does not indicate some fatal "complacency", IMHO, but is a normal human reaction.

I like Kos's "crush, baby, crush" (per Al) because that is a strong positive motivator that doesn't depend on manufacturing a fear response (as "fight like you're 20 points down!" does) that simply does not match the reality. Instead, it is confident about the current situation and sets a realistic yet ambitious goal that people will want to achieve. I feel that this is a much more effective way of keeping people motivated and I wish more people would use it.

You give the McCain campaign too much credit...

for some kind of sophisticated strategy, IMHO.  Looks to me like they're just flailing.


Every once in awhile I'm out of my depth on this blog.  I feel like I need a translator to bring the post down to new-to-campaign-watching dummy talk. 

Maybe if there were some recent historical context, it would help.  I've only seen the field organization let up once locally and that was right after the convention.  Then the polls came out and they got right back to work. 

Is there an example in *this* election where panic took hold and the field organization let up? I'm just not making the connection.


Stop Worrying about Pa

I've been working for Obama and the Democratic ticket since Feb.  McCain cannot pickup Pa.  Simple as that.  People need to realize he has dumped millions in this state, and visits weekly with no gain.  None in months.  The swing voters he needs are highly educated moderates in the burbs.  It is an understatement that they are repulsed by his campaign, by Palin and now by him.  The smears are not resonating, the resolve of Obama supporters is high.  Worry about some other state, Obama has Pa under control.

Too Much Credit


I think you are giving the McCain campaign more credit than they have proven they deserve.  I think they are throwing a hail mary in PA because they see no other path to victory.  They need to play offense in at least one Kerry state because they cannot defend all of the Bush states.  The state with the most electoral votes that they feel they can swing is PA.  I think this is based more on PA's appalachian reputation than polling that shows it to be a very solid Obama state.

If this is their most likely path to victory, than they are truly desperate.  It makes no sense to give up on a bunch of states you are losing by 5-7 points to make a play for a state you lead by 10-15 points.  It's like they are asking, "What's the most populous state with the most racists which we are not currently winning?  PA?  Great, let's put all our eggs in that basket."  This seems to be a losing strategy to me, but what do you expect from the people that brought you:

--VP Palin

--Campaign Suspension

--Joe the unlicensed, tax-evading "plumber"

The only word that Obama supporters should be focused on is FINISH.  If we finish strong, Obama wins.  The only way McCain wins if Obama supporters lose their focus.

On another note, I read yet another article today that quoted a republican strategist saying the 18-24 year olds were not going to turnout again this year.  I think this is tripe, obviously, but my inner chicken little feeds on tripe.  Time to make another donation I guess.

sorry but I just don't see it...

Al, I usually really respect your logic.  Here is what I think is true.  Rev. Wright can't come up until at least Saturday when Barack returns from Hawaii.  McCain isn't going to want to launch that attack while Obama is visiting his ailing grandmother.  This means that Rev. Wright would have to make an appearance next Monday (a week before the election).  Meanwhile the public has been primed to view McCain as erratic and unstable by the Obama campaign (who have been masterful at focusing the media on temperment).  Barack has been talking about the "sleazy" attacks and the media has been helping to push that narrative with stories about flyers and robocalls.  They are even being helpful in pointing out the McCain used to call those "hate calls."  Finally, the media has been "teasing Rev. Wright" since last week.  I watch a lot of cable and local news.  I have seen story after story mentioning that the McCain campaign was "considering" using Wright (particularly over the past couple of days).  Those stories always include the reporter mentioning that McCain had previously said that Rev. Wright was off limits.  So the viewer is primed already to see McCain as a desperate, erratic, LIAR.  If they bust out Rev. Wright which I hope they will, the level of BACKLASH among Dems and Independents will be off the charts.   It won't be long before John Lewis and Colin Powell come out and reiterate their critique of McCain and his tactics.  Finally, Barack will stand up on 10/29 during his half-hour TV time and make a speech about UNITY, TOLERANCE, and a VISION for the Future of America that will rival his race and Iowa JJ speech.  McCain will be CRUSHED.  

That's my assessment how all of this plays out.  Trinity is my church and Rev. Wright was my pastor for 12 years.  I say, bring out Rev. Wright John McCain and let's be done with it.  I do not believe that it will work.  If it does, then PA, OH, FL (etc...) were never going to vote for Barack in the first place... 

Complacency goes both ways

For every Obama supporter that stops volunteering because s/he thinks the race is over, there are two McCain supporters who give up because they think the same. Defeatism (for the Republicans) is a much bigger issue than complacency for the Democrats. That said, we should not pay any attention to the polls and keep working as hard as we can to ensure a Democratic victory and a complete rejection of the Republican Party up and down the ballot.

My mantra

Throughout the entire primary season and thus far in the general election campaign, I have always approached the work as though we were 20 points down in the polls.

And here in Maine, we have been quietly working despite robocalls, push polling, constant negative advertising, and visits from the Palins.  There have been some really rough patches where I have felt discouraged, but I kept picking up the phone anyway.

Recently, I talked to a gentleman who really believed that Barack may be a muslim who pals around with terrorists.  I spoke about Barack's grandparents, mother, his background and wove it in with his commitment to building up the economy by focusing on ordinary folks and by the end of the conversation he told me he would vote for Barack and committed to convincing 5 friends to do the same.

So, I believe that the persuasion calls I make are important.  I have been honored by the people who share their hopes and worries with me.  I am grateful for this opportunity and I will volunteer every day from now until the election and 12 hours per day the last five days.  McCain can flail around all he pleases.  My strategy hasn't changed one bit.  This is the most important election of my children's lives and I intend to DO everything in my power to help us win it.

PA has no early voting

I wonder if they picked PA to focus on because it has no early voting and hence there is more chance to change the result by attacks and smears.  Also, I think the GOP is trying voter suppresion in PA, didn't the PA GOP  file a lawsuit about the ACORN stuff?  Again, if everyone votes on one day, it's easier to suppress turnout.   Finally, if they can just make it close they can challenge the results and try to create chaos.   I'm hoping that it's not close at all in PA or Obama doesn't need PA to reach 270 (or both would be even better).

Republican angst

Share this link with Republicans. It's written by a Republican and might persuade some of them to vote for Obama.,0,5...


I agree this is desperation on McCain's part.  And I suspect the campaign may figure they can go after PA with Wright.  My personal opinion on that is that the voters of PA got "All Wright, All the Time" for weeks.  They still favor Obama by a large margin.  Will the polls there narrow?  They might.  But I don't see how harping on Wright to people who are long since past that issue is going to turn the tide for McCain.

Personally, I welcome any time and resources that McCain spends in PA.  My focus is on NC, and time spent by the McCain campaign in PA is time they are not spending trying to shore up their chances here.

An Obama win here, along with other implications of that (ie, a likely win in VA), makes McCain's activity in PA moot.  And that's our focus here.  I'm sure the volunteers in PA have the same focus there.

McCain can't be everywhere at once.  The effort he would need to expend to win PA takes away from defending other states.  There are simply too many places he can't afford to lose.  It's up to us to put him out of our misery.


Al, I love your insight. This McCain strategy certainly seems plausible, however it seems to me that its premise assumes that the ground game is all that the Obama campaign has left.

I would argue that the campaign has a readied response in its coiffers similar to the Keating 5 to help neutralize the "Wright Effect". We all have been expecting it. Also, taking into consideration Obama's money advantage, on Meet The Press this past Sunday Andrea Mitchell said, "They [the Obama campaign] have now bought up all the remaining [TV] time that is available.  So you talk about a half-hour speech.  Right now, John McCain would be hard-pressed to find the time.  The networks would have to make some kinds of, you know, equal time decisions to get him [McCain] on because all the time has been bought up.  And they're [the Obama campaign] running these ads over and over again." 

Strategically speaking Obama has squeezed McCain out of prime air time which is probably why McCain is holding fast to capturing the news cycle, those robo calls and flyers. I am not sure about the commercial ad rules but Obama's pre-emptive strike may have also restricred the widespread reach of the 527s as well, at least as far as prime air time is concerned. And at this point the RNC probably wants to cut its losses down ticket and not willingly offer any of its reserved time to McCain. Or am I being too naive in this last assessment? And, of course, the cable news stations would probably love to have one last Rev Wright orgasm before it's said and done. They tried with Ayers but no traction.

Perhaps it's just me but I don't think Rev Wright, even delivered sarcastically by Palin, is enough to turn out the GOP base in the numbers McCain needs. And it would certainly serve as an energizing wake up call to complacent Obama supporters.

PEW Research National Poll - Awesome 52 0 - 38 M

This poll has great results, includes answers to some really good questions and has some great comparison charts.  Everything and a free set of knives in this one.  It's very impressive just 13 days from the Big Day.  A HUGE sampling (2,599) and includes cell phones.



What can You Do???

Contact your local Obama office or Dem headqtrs right now and offer to volunteer to do GOTV phonebanking or canvassing, particularly in states with early voting. Based on numbers I've seen, there is a strong correlation between who has gotten called with a 'go early vote call' and those who have actually done it. Early vote GOTV efforts are working, and in a big way.


We're piling up huge early vote numbers in North Carolina - and every person who early votes is one less that McCain has a chance to change thier mind later on. The clock is ticking, and ticking in a hurry for him.

I fully expect

Rev Wright to show up soon. They have tried Socialism, Eltisim, Terrorism and all those other isms. All they have left is racism. Thing is, the cards were already laid out on the table. The American public has heard it all before. Those that buy it were never going to vote for Obama anyway and those that are fence sitting didn't fall off before. I don't think it will tip them. We just need to keep doing what we have been doing and not let up. Although I truly cannot understand how anyone could be undecided at this point, there are those out there that are. I guess they are the folks that can't decide on an ice cream flavor so they just go for the neopolitan figuring they can have it all.

Palin talking about Wright

I can only imagine Obama's campaign has a video ready similar to the Keating one they had waiting for just the right moment.  Let crazy Sarah talk about anyone else's preacher problem.  I dare her.

OT on Family Values

Along with the picture of Senator Obama's grandparents there is a heart warming essay in the Atlantic blog. Doing the right thing was not easy in the 1950s. I remember.


Al, I'm reminded of the 2006 Senate race where then-Senator George Allen went from being a shoo-in for re-election (and a top prospect for president) to getting beaten out by Jim Webb after his racist tendencies came out. I actually think that because of how Virginia has grown in the last decade or so, McCain could ultimately cost himself some votes by pursuing this strategy (I think that for every three voters he gains in the western part of the state, Obama likely picks up 4 in the DC suburbs and in the Richmond area).

Survey USA NC

the sympathy factor

I wonder how well McCain stepping up the McNasty is going to play when news reports are saying that Obama's grandmother is dying?  She has been a consistent part of his biography on the stump, and he credits her with helping raise him and instill midwestern values, and she has a broken hip and her brother says she is severely ill.  How is McCain going to get away with punching hard on things like Jeremiah Wright in the final stretch when Obama could lose his Grandma at any moment and possibly before the election?  I would think this is a very ticklish and possibly explosive problem for McCain and his tone going into the final days.

Early Voting in IN

Indiana has started early voting. My mom decided to go during the school day when it would be less crowded(the Obama campaign had called and asked her to). The only problem? The line was out the door. The early voting poll-workers were flabbergasted and already talking about extending their hours.

As for Indiana's very conservative voter ID laws(the worst in the country, I believe) She saw one instance where an elderly AA man didn't have ID and was very confused about the law, but she said she paid close attention and the pollworkers(all elderly white women, if it matters) were very clear with him that he just had to get it and come back--- another strength of getting the vote out EARLY.


the emperor is fully clothed

I love it when McCain says "We've got them right where we want them!"

For every one of his supporters who might have been inclined to do something for his campaign until hearing that, there's an Obama supporter, or two, who become inclined to get on the O-bus.

What's that? Obama -2 in Georgia? Yes We Can

@ Shawn

Hi Shawn - This is totally unscientific and a small sample but I've been phonebanking the past two days to try and rustle up some more volunteers from a town that touches mine and is coordinatorless. The college kids I've called (about five out of 100 calls so far) are all planning to vote or have already voted by absentee ballot.

I think there are certainly plenty of 18-24 year olds out there who may get lazy but there are lots of people in place to prod them off their butts on Election Day and it sounds like there are plenty of motivated ones (again based on my very small sample but also on the kids I hear about from the project my husband's spearheading "NH Student Voter Project"). That said we can't relax and act like this thing is in the bag. We need every vote and we all need to make sure we prod or drag everyone we know to the polls (well I don't feel a need to drag McCain supporters but hey that's me being selfish ;-)).

Early Voting NC through Monday

North Carolina saw 132,672 more early votes cast Monday, for a cumulative five-day total of 404,535. A 17-day early voting period opened in North Carolina last Thursday  The 132,672 is the biggest day so far. Demographics have stayed steady, Blacks made up 32.90% of the Monday total.

UPDATE: At 3 pm today, the cumulative total passed 479,4034, the final total for the hotly contested 17-day Presidential Primary early voting period.

For 2008 for the first 404,535, here is a breakdown by race:
Black 32.81%
White 63.30%
Other* 3.89%


By party, the 2008 totals are

Cumulative five-day
Unaffiliated 16.43%
Republican   22.33%
Libertarian   0.05%
Democratic   61.19%

Toward a More Perfect Union

Philadelphia, PA is where Obama gave his widely heralded Rev. Wright speech. The speech that was compared with the best of Lincoln and MLK. They're familiar with Wright in PA. The reason the McCain campaign hasn't touched that issue isn't because McCain gave his now worthless word that he wouldn't (he also promised to run a clean campaign). It's because they really didn't believe it would work. The people persuaded by Wright were never going to vote for Obama anyway. This is also why they felt comfortable with Palin - who has her own crazy church, in which she underwent a ritual approximating an exorcism (note to church: didn't work).

It said everything to me that the McCain campaign went with Ayers over Wright - and it said a lot about their strategy. Ayers didn't go through the thresher during the primary that Wright did. Remember, it was almost an entire month of nothing but wall-to-wall coverage of the reverend. So they played the card they believed would be the most effective. I feel certain they would have used Wright much sooner if their internal polling indicated it would move independents and undecideds. The decision they made tells the story already.

Now, out of options, they may indeed play the Wright card. This is something I'm sure the Obama campaign has only about five zillion different strategies to deal with - beginning with a fact that developed since the initial Wright flare-up: Obama has formally and very publicly broken with the reverend and his former church. Now he actually gets to agree with some of the criticism of Wright. Coupled with the wall-to-wall coverage in the winter/spring, it seems at some level the Wright tactic has been neutralized.

I'm reminded of this old Onion satire of Marilyn Manson, who tours the mid-west in ghoulish and sacrilegeous attire only to realize that he's lost his ability to shock:

"[Manson] was standing at my front door wearing those fake breasts he wore on the cover of Mechanical Animals," retiree Judith Hahn said. "He said, 'My name is Marilyn Manson, and I'm here to tear your little world apart.' I thought he was collecting for the Kiwanis food drive, so I gave him some cans of pumpkin-pie filling."

When we see too much of something, it loses it's sting.


That poll showing them tied at 47 has 10% AA voting for McCain. Seems high, no?

Obama making calls in Missouri


There are a couple of things that don't quite pass the smell test on the SUSA poll.  Obama leading only among 18-29 year olds?  This would be the only state.  Remember, SUSA had a rather difficult time in this neck of the woods during the primaries.

That said, it's a great motivator...  :)

Al, if you're still looking for election day hangout,

Obama has apparently chosen his and it is Chicago's front lawn, Grant Park. This is where Chicago folks go for music festivals or to share fireworks with a million friends and neighbors.

Obama's Election Night: Grant Park


You can do worse.

Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia

Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia. Betcha these states will be in play and that all the talk about the race tightening will be among the things that did not happen ... this time. I still see, as I have for some time, a 400 plus victory.These may not be in the final and we nay not get there, but I have a feeling that many Repubs will stay home everywhere.

whats up with Rendell, is he

whats up with Rendell, is he just trying to avoid complacency or is he adding fumes to this arguement.with his ' I am nervous comment'

Or does he want to make sure all eyes are on pennsylvania this election and thus creating leverage and clout for himself in a new administration


Al, are you saying that a last-minute desperate PA racist push

will suddenly enthuse all the RW base including the moderates and independents to give McCain the election ? How ? Why ?

With all the polls now showing that these RW moderates & indies are already turned off by his negative attack tactics, why would additional, last-minute sliming at PA would turn them back to McCain ?

Sorry for too many questions.


What's up with PA

For an analogy and my perspective on McCain's Pennsylvania attack

Worth a read

This just in to me from a close acquaintance:

This is fascinating.

The link below takes you to a page where NPR host Farai Chideya conducts an interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter and Lucy McCain, a Michigan professor originally from Mississippi. The reporter wrote a story (also linked from this page) about Dr. McCain's family — which was once owned by John McCain's ancestors! Yep, you read that right — these are the Black McCains, whose biological ties to the Senator's family are disputed by the White McCains, even though both attend the biennial family reunions. And yes, Farai does ask for whom the African-American McCains will be voting...but I won't spoil the punch line.

I think this would be a great teach piece on our nation's convoluted history...



 Link here




Al, I agree with

Al, I agree with 'anonymous', former member of Rev. Wright's church, above.   This shit has been played out, and five months have kind of innoculated the 'thinking' portion of our population.

McLame is a gambler--and he is trying to sketch out a hail Mary strategy that will see him in the White House come January.

He is going to lose big-time.  The Colin Powell endoresment sealed the deal with middle America, thank Dog.

Young and hopeful, and good looking--surely this beats old, angry and cynical any day of the week in the battle for the soul of the US people.

If McLame tries to go the scorched-earth route in the final week, this will not reap benefits--it will only remind sane folk of the degree to which the rightwing has totally failed in the battle of ideas.

You will get another $25.00 for the Florida trip in the next couple of days.   The comments here are cogent and enlightening.

My thoughts right now go toward Obama's grandmother, and I am hoping that she lives to see Barack become president.  She deserves this, and more.  I am sure that Barack's visit will give her energy to hang in there--and vise-versa, that Barack's time with his grandmother will give him the energy that is necessary to take this election home.

Our country deserves better (than the same tired policies and ideologies) and we can do better.  Let's make it happen!   Though I might be wrong, I have a feeling that the end result of this election will trend toward Obama's favor.  But we cannot rest on our laurels coming into the home-stretch.

(OT: voted early today.  Horrendous 2.5 hours for the actual act of voting.  However, I got that out of the way so that on election day I can devote all my energy toward getting folks to the polls.  I want there to be no doubt that Florida is a Blue state.)

Get you ass down here to Florida already! We've got the Hawiian Tropic and the Orange Blossom ale ready for you!  (Are you ready for the SERIOUS Florida brew?  Yes, it is 11.5 proof, and my money has it that four of these will take your ass out, no doubt.  Mind you, there are very few people that know where to get this stuff.  Enquire within. )


My thoughts

I agree with several commenters above that bringing up Wright in PA is probably pretty futile.  I doubt if there is a single voter in PA that wasn't over=exposed to Wright during the primary.  And yes I know attention is different now, but Wright was 24/7, specially on Fox, which is the main base for McCain in the state.  And I agree that it would probably alienate voters in other states.


Most voters would say, being aware, even if only vaguely, of the Wright broohaha, "why bring it up now?  Sounds like desparation to me."


Right now I am fairly confident of victory.  However, I am not over confident or compalcent.  I am doing phone calls and writing letters to the editors to papers in several states.


As a side note.  My son is a career soldier and I was at his home on Sunday.  I already knew he was for Obama but I asked how the Powell endorsement would play with the military.  Basically he told me that Obama probably had a majority of junior officers (Captains and Lieutenants) as well as enlisted.  He felt that Powell's endorsement would definitely help with higher ranks and retired military and their families.


Finally, all Chicago Field Hands, the arrangements have been made to meet and greet Al on Friday evening.  Hop over to the group page for details and to let us know if you will be there.  Unfortunately, I may not be able to, which is extremely disappointing to me, not just because i will miss Al, but also because I will miss meeting many of the locals.


Oh, and lest I forget, I also want to send wishes to the Obama family as they deal with something that is not easy.

Al--McCain coming to Iowa???

Seriously, McCain-Palin are coming to Iowa...WTF?

Is this a dig to Barack since he was supposed to be here on Thursday but obviously canceled to be with his grandmother. Could Davis and McCain be that.....sick? deranged?

McCain's ground game missing in action?

Chuck Todd said on MSNBC this morning that McCain's GOTV is going nowhere in FL.  I have been canvassing in Northern VA.  In going door to door, none of the undecideds I talked to had been 'touched' by McCain people. And the Obama organizers in my town said they don't even know where the nearest McCain field office is.  In this town of 25,000 or so, Obama is putting 300 people on the streets every weekend and McCain is yet to get off the ground.

@john in illinois

You better be there!!  In all seriousness, I hope you can make it - you were one of the first Chicagoans on the old Field so it would be great to have you to kick off this welcome to Al.

possibly less inspired

They supposedly have Guiliani's guy planning the itineraries, and Schmidt and Rick Davis really aren't top strategists. These are the people that had McCain in Iowa being grilled by the Democratic Register staff, then spent time in Wisconsin. It's always good to assume the opponent's strategy has some masterful inspiration to it, but I think they're spending money in PA because they are deluded and incompetent.

I live in the Philly market and there's lots of McCain buys during the football games, while resources are not being spent putting more McCain ads in Florida, where they have a better chance and they must win, and Colorado and Virginia, which are both closer and have cheaper media markets. The Morning Call article cited in 538 suggests there's a long term strategy for PA two years in the making, and no one in McCain apparently wants to make the inter-office decision to throw in the towel because of this past month of polling.,0,247191.story

But always prepare for their best game, even if it doesn't come.

Some thoughts

First, I love the Barack phone calling video.  Thanks, Melissa.

Second, PA sure doesn't make it easy to vote, do they?  No early voting and only very specific people that can be approved for absentee ballots.  Yuck.   You'd sure like to see them be more progressive on that issue.  I sure hope there aren't issues with lines - evidence is clearly pointing to unprecedented turnout. How will the precincts cope??

Finally, the Kos post is good stuff, Al.  I am excited thinking about what we will be able to do going forward.  Lord knows our country is going to need each of us to contribute to getting out of the mess we are in.

Will someone be videotaping Al's Wisconsin event?

It'd be great if someone can videotape Al's Wisconsin event so it can be seen by those of us unable to be in Wisconsin (or, later, Chicago).

Or, if not even videotaped, is there a chance someone will be recording the audio of the event?


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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