The day after the exquisitely polite debate, an nice old fashioned political food fight has broken out between McCain and Romney. McCain says Romney is a mere manager and not a leader. He also criticizes RomneyCare in a new web ad. Romney reads the oppo talking points to the media gaggle and tries to hang the New York Times endorsement around McCain’s neck and remind voters that McCain is cozy with Democrats. (The final point seems at odds with Romney’s assertion that only he comes to Washington free from animosity that prevents the parties from working to solve problems, but don’t look for consistency fours days before a critical election.) The public polling shows a dead heat, although some in the Romney camp are claiming they have this in the bag.
I tend to think that rather than these now predictable arguments, close elections turn on more mundane matters. Is McCain making progress with evangelicals? Does Mel Martinez’ endorsement monopolize local coverage going into the final weekend? Will Rudy sustain his support, cutting into McCain’s potential pool of voters, or will it slip away as the media picks up on the “what went wrong” theme?
Finally, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that older voters turn out to vote in disproportionately high numbers. There are a lot of them in Florida and McCain in South Carolina and in some Florida polling has been doing well with his contemporaries. Despite Romney’s effort to woo back the over 65 set with an exemption from social security taxes (If Fred Thompson were around he’d be happy to point out how irresponsible this is given our entitlement crunch), they may be the deciding factor.