If John McCain is going to shock the political world, he’ll have to do it in Pennsylvania. Trailing in Colorado and iffy in Virginia, he badly needs to “flip” Pennsylvania in order to eke out a win, if there is a win to be had. Chuck Todd asks some good questions:
Is it in play or not? The McCain folks have no choice but to believe that it is. They are hoping that party I.D. snaps back and that some sort of race component kicks in to salvage McCain. I don’t know. If George W. Bush couldn’t carry the state, why should we believe McCain can? Ironically, Republicans have a shot at winning two House seats thanks to incumbent Democratic gaffes; Both Jack Murtha and Paul Kanjorski are on the brink. Could Pennsylvania be the only state in the union where Republicans net more House seats than Democrats?
So let’s go in order. Yes, it’s in play if you believe the polls this week that have gone from double to single digits and you think the tickets wouldn’t be spending valuable time on the ground if it were in the bag for Barack Obama.
Why could McCain win what Bush could not? The real question is: why could Obama lose what Kerry did not? The answers: Bittergate (which Jack Murtha inadvertently may have rekindled by once again insulting the state’s voters), Joe Biden’s clean coal gaffe, Joe the Plumber (and the ill-advised attack on him by the MSM and Obama supporters), Sarah Palin (who seems more representative of Scranton than Joe Biden) and a whole lot of third party ads on Reverend Wright running in the final weekend.
None of this means that McCain is a shoo-in or even the favorite in Pennsylvania. But there are reasons, lots of them, why the state might slip from Obama’s grasp. And that’s why the candidates and their supporters are spending so much time and money there. If any or all of these factors tip the Keystone state to McCain, it is likely Ohio also would have fallen into McCain’s lap. (Hard to think he could win Pennsylvania and not Ohio.) This is the narrow crack which McCain must slip through. Not a huge opening, but McCain has never enjoyed much room to spare in his daredevil political career.