McCain campaign predicts greatest comeback ever - of all time even

Jake Turcotte

Who didn't tear up when Rudy finally got his chance and was sent in to play for Notre Dame?

Who didn't get a shot of adrenalin when Adrian awoke from a coma and whispered in Rocky's ear, "I want you to do one thing for me. . . WIN!"

Who didn't feel that same sense of excitement when Joe the Plumber got on stage yesterday and.....

Yeah, that doesn't quite follow.


Anyway.  It's Halloween and the polls are somewhat spooky for the McCain campaign.  But John likes the roll of underdog.  He's said it many times.  He is the underdog.  "Big time" - as Dick Cheney would say.

How bad are the polls?

They're kind of like the dancers from Michael Jackson's Thriller video: spooky-looking yet synchronized.  They all say the same thing.  Although unlike the video, there are no instances of limbs falling off.

Close to midnight

Bloomberg's not pulling any punches.  It's remote.  It's a longshot.  They report McCain "goes into the campaign's final weekend a bigger underdog than any victorious candidate in a modern election."

But they know that history is made all the time.  Some just may recall that the 2000 election was somewhat historic.


Gallup's daily tracking poll shows Obama strengthening his lead with an eight point margin, 51 - 43 percent.  In their expanded likely voter model, Obama has a nine point edge, 52 - 43 percent.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll shows the same thing.  Obama up by nine points, 53 - 44 percent.

CNN's poll of polls gives Obama a seven point edge, 50 - 43 percent.  And RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Obama up 50 - 43.5 percent.

Internal polls

No way, Jose.  The polls are wrong says McCain campaign manager Rick Davis.  He says internal polls show something completely different.  They've had their best ten days of polling since the election Davis says.

Spin?  Well, Davis makes the case for the discrepancy between public and private polling by pointing out that Obama campaigned in Iowa today.

"Iowa’s a good example," Davis said. "Public polling had it at 12 points. Our own data now has us dead even in the state of Iowa. And we understand Barack Obama probably has very similar polling. He’s now on his way back to Iowa as one of his last campaign stops."

Good news, but...

Newsweek's Howard Fineman agrees that Obama spending time at this late stage in Iowa is a positive for McCain -- although only calling it a "glimmer of good news."

"But that is cold comfort for McCain, given what seems to be happening everywhere else on the map. African-American and new-voter registrations have turned both North Carolina and now Georgia into tossup states and put Obama ahead in Virginia. If Obama is able to convert all three, we’ll be talking blowout on election night. Even if Obama wins only one of them, he makes the rest of the map close to impossible for McCain."

No buts

But if you listen to the McCain team, it's entirely possible.

"We are witnessing, I believe, probably one of the greatest comebacks that you've seen since John McCain won the primary," Davis said.


Pollster Stu Rothenberg agrees, kind of.  He tells Bloomberg that a comeback like this would certainly be historic.

"If John McCain were to win, it would be a stunning, dramatic reversal comparable to Dewey and Truman, but that would take a historic, dramatic turnaround,'' he said.

Does he think he can do it?  No.


Many believe in order to do it, he's got to wrestle Pennsylvania away from Obama.  That's why both campaigns are spending so much time there.  Again, it looks uphill for McCain with RealClearPolitics showing Obama to have a 9.3 percent lead in the state.


Can he turn it around?  Everyone's favorite pollster -- Nate Silver, told New York Magazine that it really is a long shot.

"McCain's camp seems to have this notion that they'll lose Philadelphia, tie Pittsburgh, and win the Pennsyltucky part of the state," Silver said. "But they're going to lose Philadelphia by too large a margin to make up for it elsewhere in the state. What's really costing them, I think, is that Obama is liable to do quite well in the Philly suburbs, which was more of a swing region before. SurveyUSA has Obama winning the entire southeast region of the state — city and suburbs — by about two to one. And that's more than 40 percent of Pennsylvania's population."


Davis likens the race now to primary season when as the familiar McCain narrative goes - everyone counted him out...

"We had a saying during the primary, 'Believe your eyes.' There was not a single poll that showed us up in a lot of the primaries; we're confident we can accomplish the same thing in the general election. We have no indication to the otherwise," he said on the conference call.

Well, what about...

MSNBC's First Read, however, spotted a flaw with that statement.

Before the New Hampshire primary: The NBC/Mason-Dixon poll had McCain up over Romney, 32%-24%; USA Today/Gallup: McCain 34%, Romney 30%, Huckabee 13%; CNN/WMUR: McCain 32%, Romney 26%, Huckabee 14%, Giuliani11%, Paul10%.
Before South Carolina: Three Republican polls showed McCain up with Huckabee narrowly trailing and Romney and Thompson battling for third.
Before Florida: Quinnipiac: McCain at 32%, Romney at 31%, Giuliani at 14%, and Huckabee at 13%; Miami Herald : McCain 25%-23%

Who are these people?

The hope for McCain supporters?  Undecideds are still out there.  A full 14 percent of voters, or one in seven has yet to decide.  This according to an Associated Press/Yahoo poll.

Why haven't they made up their minds?  Easy.  The pollsters say these people don't like either candidate nor the campaign.  Imagine that.

"For now, their indecision remains intact despite the fortunes that have been spent to tug people toward either McCain, the Republican, or the Democrat Obama. Fueling their uncertainty is a combination of disliking something about both candidates and frustration with this campaign and politics in general," writes the Associated Press.

We'll find out soon enough what all the polls say.  And then a few days later, we'll start gearing for 2012 election coverage.

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