early and often

Is It Really Over for McCain?

With three weeks left until Election Day, and with Obama maintaining a steady seven-point lead (according to RealClearPolitics), do you think John McCain is preparing to concede defeat? Hell no. In a comeback-themed speech later today in Virginia he’ll proclaim, maverick-ly, “We’ve got them just where we want them.” Oookay. That kind of confident optimism might be a necessary posture for McCain to take at this point, but political pundits are debating whether Barack Obama already has a landslide locked up, and if there’s anything McCain could possibly do to stop it.

• John Harwood writes that, based on history, a McCain comeback is unlikely, and what little chance he has is basically out of his hands. He may need “a misstep by Mr. Obama or a national security crisis” in order to turn things around. [Caucus/NYT]

• Walter Shapiro contends that the Bradley Effect, which posits that white voters misrepresent their support for black candidates, could possibly still take its toll on Obama. Beyond that, there are four factors that can keep McCain’s hopes alive: volatile public opinion, an October surprise, another big stunt, or focusing exclusively on must-win (or must-defend) states. [Salon]

• William Kristol thinks that the situation may be “hopeless” due to the unfriendly political environment and the “strategic incoherence and operational incompetence” of the McCain campaign. What McCain should do, basically, is scrap his entire campaign and start from scratch for the last three weeks. [NYT]

• Nate Silver calculates McCain’s chances of winning at a measly 5.9 percent, though he has a much better chance of surging and coming close without actually winning, like Hubert Humphrey in 1968. [FiveThirtyEight]

• Steven Thomma says that while unforeseen events, like a terrorist attack, could still change the race, “Obama is now well positioned to win the Electoral College” in a “landslide.” [McClatchy]

• Alex Koppelman believes that while “there’s good reason to believe that what Thomma predicts will come true,” it’s still the case that “even with just a few weeks left in the election, anything can happen.” [War Room/Salon]

• Michael Tomasky warns us not to “scoff” at McCain’s “comeback” speech, as the race is “heading in the direction of being over, yes. But it’s not over.” Something “unusual” would be needed to swing all the swing states for McCain, giving him a narrow victory. “But it isn’t impossible.” [Guardian UK]

• Peter A. Brown examines how the margin of victory could impact how effective a President Obama could be once in office. [Political Perceptions/WSJ]

• Anne E. Kornblut and Jon Cohen write that “McCain’s path to victory seems steeper” because “the percentage of ‘movable’ voters continues to shrink.” In addition, he faces “an unprecedented grim view of the country overall.” [WP]

• Roger Cohen looks at traditional Republican voters supporting Obama in Missouri, and says he’s “starting to believe in a Republican bloodbath.” [NYT]

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Is It Really Over for McCain?