THE BLOG

Is McCain Playing to Win?

10/28/2008 10:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reviewing DemFromCT's morning poll roundup, we see some evidence of one scenario we have been anticipating in my posts of recent weeks: that McCain is in the process of reclaiming ground he should have occupied for some time, ground that he had given up with his dismal performance these last few months. While McCain has gained a point or two in many national polls these last few days (remaining at a still anemic 43-45 percent), Obama is not showing any sign of slippage. And as we wrote the other day, the only way this race becomes competitive now is for both McCain to gain and Obama to begin losing ground.

One point very much worth considering is something DemFromCT looks at this morning, which is where McCain's gains are coming from. There is a very real chance he could pick up national points by gaining ground in non-competitive Southern states with wavering base Republican voters. And while those gains will give him some national points, they will in no way affect the current dynamic of the race, which is why it is possible to see Arizona coming into play and McCain picking up a point or two on the same day. The national poll numbers are not evenly distributed across this vast and complicated country.

So, today, one week out, Obama's lead looks solid and unaltered. And while McCain's slight uptick does not look like it will affect the outcome of the Presidential, it could impact close races down ballot, particularly in more conservative districts and states. It has been my sense for some time now that the McCain strategy has been focusing on bringing wavering base voters home, hence Baby Killer! Socialist! Communist! Terrorist! Muslim! Liberal! - all messages seemingly more attuned to the GOP base than traditional undecided voters in battleground states. It almost seems as if what the McCain camp decided a few weeks ago was to give up getting to 50 percent and winning the election, and rather has been focusing on turning out its base, settling for a 45-47 percent showing, saving some folks down ballot, particularly in the Senate and House and preventing a big-time realigning election.

Cross-posted on the NDN blog.