The Gray Lady’s Adam Nagourney lists six reasons why the presidential race isn’t over:
1. Still, it is one thing to register to vote; which can often be accomplished by filling out and signing a form provided to you on the street or at your doorstep. It’s quite another to get them to come out and vote. If Mr. Obama’s campaign succeeds at what it has promised, it is possible that Mr. McCain will lose in an Electoral College landslide, winning a bunch of Republican states by slim margins driven by get-out-the-vote operations. Still, first-time voters are inexperienced voters and, Mr. McCain’s advisers are no doubt hoping, less likely to turn out if, say, the weather is bad. (emphasis added)
In a turn of wishful thinking, Republicans now believe Obama’s ground game is less than advertised. Precisely what they base this opinion on is unclear – all empirical evidence points toward the largest, most effective organization in American politics. Take this anecdote from 538, on their battleground state tour:
You could take every McCain volunteer we’ve seen doing actual work in the entire trip, over six states, and it would add up to the same as Obama’s single Thornton, CO office. Or his single Durango, CO office. These ground campaigns bear no relationship to each other.
Or look at the primaries, where organization was the X-factor propelling Obama past Clinton. If Republicans want to take the cross-your-fingers approach, they can prepare to be disappointed on Election Day.
Another one of Nagourney’s reasons:
5. Race is, of course, the question that has hovered over the contest for two years. Are there a significant number of white voters who will not support Mr. Obama because he is black, no matter what they tell pollsters? Some Republicans said they have come to look at this as Mr. McCain’s last, best hope.
Again, turn to empirical evidence to reject this claim. During the primaries, a Bradley effect popped up in only three states, California, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. However, a reverse Bradley effect occurred in twelve primary states, where Obama’s final numbers exceeded pre-election polls by seven percent or more, well beyond the margin of error.
6. Mr. McCain’s advisers said he intended to keep hitting the Ayers question in the days, if not weeks, ahead, in the belief that this might be what it takes to get his campaign on track.
The Ayers issue has derailed the Republican campaign, with the slew of negative attacks hurting McCain’s credibility. Details:
Registered voters by a 24-point margin, 59-35 percent, now say McCain is more focused on attacking his opponent rather than addressing the issues. That’s grown from a roughly even 48-45 percent split on this question in late August.
There’s far less criticism of the tone of Obama’s campaign: Registered voters by 68-26 percent say he’s mainly addressing the issues, not attacking his opponent.