6 Oct 2008

With 30 days until Nov. 4, Karl Rove projects that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would get at least 273 electoral votes – three more than are needed to win – if the presidential election were held today.

But Rove warns that this race is “susceptible to rapid changes,” so no definite prediction is possible.

The remarkable forecast from the architect of the last two nationwide political victories underscores the straits that have rapidly enveloped Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as the banking and credit crisis spread.

Rove writes on Rove.com: “39 new state polls released in the first three days of October have given Barack Obama his first lead over the magic number of 270 since mid-July. Minnesota (10 EV) and New Hampshire (4 EV) both moved from toss-up to Obama, giving him 273 electoral votes to McCain’s 163, with 102 votes remaining as a toss-up.

“If the election were held today, Obama would win every state John Kerry won in 2004, while adding New Mexico (5 EV), Iowa (7 EV), and Colorado (9 EV) to his coalition. Remember, though, that these state polls are a lagging indicator and most do not include any surveying done after the vice-presidential debate on Thursday night.”

Rove cautioned on “Fox News Sunday”: “Remember, the campaign ebbs and flows. What we're seeing here is a result of the focus of the American people, voters, on the economic problems that have dominated the news the last several weeks. What's happened then is a shift to Obama.

“Just remember, 17 days ago in the electoral college, McCain led 227 to 216. Fifteen days ago, on the eve of the news on the bailout, he led 216-215.This race is susceptible to rapid changes and we're likely to see, in the remaining four weeks, more changes.”

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd said Obama is still one state away from solidifying the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the White House. Colorado, Virginia or Florida would put it away for Obama if the election were held today, Todd said.

“Even if it’s Nevada [making the total] 269, it sends it to the House, where Democrats have an advantage,” Todd said. “As it stands today, John McCain would have to run the table. Now, good news for him: They’re all states that voted Republican four years ago.

“However, he’s behind right now a little bit in Ohio. There’s a dispute of who’s ahead or who’s behind in Florida but it feel as if Obama’s a little bit ahead in Florida. Obama’s a little bit ahead in Colorado. And it’s a dead even race in Virginia. Dead even in Nevada. And even Missouri, which we almost put in tossup this week, is getting very close, where McCain just has a very narrow lead.”

Todd said a landslide could be 364 electoral votes – “the high-water mark.” In 1980, Ronald Reagan got 489. In 1988, George H.W. Bush got 426. “The McCain folks now have to hold everything … to keep this thing competitive,” Todd said.

Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who was the architect of McCain’s 2000 campaign said on “Meet the Press”: “It’s McCain’s barn that’s on fire. … Thirty days out, I think McCain can win. But the fact is, [if the] election were held today, he’d lose. And I think he’s on a losing path.

“I think the McCain campaign has to look in the mirror now and decide, do we need to change up the strategy? They’ve been running the grinding campaign on Obama. There’s a lot of good things to attack Obama about – people have a lot of doubts about Obama. But they’ve got to fix McCain. McCain has to connect with voters on the economy. He’s got to get ticket-splitters. Get out of base Republican issues and get people who are worried about the economy and health care over. Or in this anti-Republican environment, this trend line is very, very bad.”

Appearing with Murphy, Democratic consultant Paul Begala, who helped mastermind Bill Clinton’s 1992 win, said he had talked to the Obama high command. “They’re flooding the zone,” Begala said. “They’re going into places where Democrats used to never dare go. Indiana! I cannot believe we’re sitting here 30 days before an election, talking about Indiana, a potential tossup state. Or North Carolina and Virginia.

“Barack Obama would be the first non-Southerner from my party to carry a Southern state since JFK – before I was born, before Barack was born. This is an incredible map.



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