The Republican Salvage Operation

There is a bit of conflicting information on this score, but it appears that the horse-race poll numbers have tightened toward John McCain a tad.  Drudge gets to blare the anomalous Gallup poll results which show the race in the margin of error at 3 percent– but Drudge probably blared that weird “which of these polls is doing its own thing?” one percenter a week ago.

Anyway, we’ve gone from the six and eleven percentage advantage for Obama to the five and seven percent advantage.  Which is odd, because the swing states don’t appear to be moving in McCain’s direction, and that weird assortment of non-swing states which nonetheless are tantalazingly close for Obama keep popping up here and there.  Perhaps the swing state polls lag behind the national polls?

I am also getting conflicting accounts of what it is McCain is doing with this map.  But maybe this politico report is just old news, and McCain has already side-lined it to his focus on getting a narrow Bush-state victory.  The tightening of the polls does suggest that McCain can’t or shouldn’t slide into the “Salvage what you can” mode for keeping as many Republican seats down-ticket as you can — though with McCain’s history with his own party this might not be too doable anyways.  What I would do if I were the McCain / Palin campaign: #1: You have something with “Joe the Plumber” — which is a nascent Tax Revolt which is not going to win you anything in 2008 but will be the kernal of a future Republican victory.  Go with that campaign tact.  #2:  McCain should shuttle back and forth between Ohio and Florida.  80 percent of his campaign appearances should be in these two states.  Maybe that number is an exaggeration, and maybe McCain needs to lean on Palin a bit too much to excite any crowd.  #3:  Sarah Palin can do that red-state tour through the questionably marginal states such as Missouri and traditionally Republican but swinging toward Obama’s direction states of North Carolina and Virginia and the unsettled West Virginia.  This is the Base Mobilization strategy, the states where the natural Democratic / Republican disparency should have the Republican win by just getting their voters to the poll — and it appears to be what she is doing — telling North Carolinas that this is the part of the country full of “Real Americans” (as opposed to the fake Americans who populate the rest of the country) and demanding that Obama come clean on his connections with ACORN (which strikes me like demanding to know somebody’s connections with the Rotary).

That also might give Palin an excuse to head over to, say Georgia.  Which is a state Obama is probably not going to win, but is entertaining the idea of making a play for.  I suspect it’s as much a play for winning the Senate seat there as anything else.  This brings me to what it is John Ensign of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s strategy these days ought be.  This is the Salvage Operation of all Salvage Operations — the very feeble goal of keeping the number of Republican senate seats into the 40s.  The situation for the Republicans is that they might lose eight senate seats, and they can still just go ahead and call it a victory.  I guess the strategy for Ensign and crew these days would be to concede Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.  Alaska they can leave to Ted Stevens’s devices — which is not a concession.  This leaves two tiers of states:  Oregon and Minnesota in one, followed by Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and perhaps Texas.  The Republicans should win that latst four, and purely defensively it would get them into the forties if they keep those seats — their meager goal.  I guess for limited resources purposes, I’d trust Texas to remain in Cornyn’s good hands, and spend it to keep Kentucky, Georgia, and Misssissippi in Republican hands.  That is the firewall — Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman might as well be buttressed by third party 527s (“Paid for by People Who Love Puppies”) and probably wouldn’t be too well served by advertisements which end with voters hearing “Paid for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee”.  It is not too good a sign that the Republicans are left with a fire-wall purely with those three southern (and border) states, and conceding a bunch of Presidential swing-states, but that’s where the party sits for the year 2008.  Well, 2010 and 2012 promise moderately big things for the party, I suppose.  All of this is off, because the Republicans are foolishly still trying to pick off a Senate victory in Louisiana — a little too proud are they, I suppose.

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