(Click chart to see full size)
It takes 270 to win this game. McCain is behind in national polls, down 7.5 in our Pollster.com Trend Estimate. But as you know, this is a game won in the states. So what does it now take for McCain to eek out a 270-268 electoral vote win?
The chart above shows the states allocated to candidates based on my Political Arithmetik trend estimate. The classification of states is the same as Pollsters, but differ slightly in the order.
The states are ordered left to right according to the Obama minus McCain margin. Yellow states are classed as tossups but are allocated to candidates based on who is ahead in the trend, no matter how small that margin may be. The width of each state's block is proportional to the state's electoral vote.
With this classification, Obama has 364 electoral votes to McCain's 174.
So what would it take for McCain to come back at this point? Ohio and Florida, above all else.
Ohio and Florida are the largest states that are in Obama's row but still close. McCain led in both states in August and the first half of September. Without them, it is hopeless. With them, he still needs more, but they are the necessary conditions for a win.
Can he do it? The trends in Ohio and Florida offer a small glimmer of hope. While most states have continued to move in Obama's direction (see PA, MI and WI), these two have leveled off, and in Ohio moved back in McCain's direction.
No matter what, McCain has a long shot to get to 270. But The road has to go through Ohio and Florida and both states are looking better for him than any others he must win. What he is doing in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is a mystery to me.