Obama has a clear and decisive lead over John Mccain going into the VP debates, but what's worse for Mccain is the shape of the battlegrounds. To win, Mccain would need to hold all the battlegrounds that he currently holds (including Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, which are all seriously at risk), he would also need to take essentially all of the swing states that Obama holds (Virginia, New Hampshire AND Colorado.)
No states swing today. North Carolina, Ohio and Florida all stay Mccain for now but creep closer to the Obama column.
Virginia -- no change
North Carolina -- promoted from Serious to Key battleground
Ohio -- promoted from Serious to Key battleground
Florida -- promoted from Substantial to Serious battleground
Nevada -- no change
New Hampshire -- no change
Colorado -- no change
Pennsylvania -- no change
Indiana -- no change
Missouri -- added as Fringe battleground (from Potential Battleground)
Note: I finally bit the bullet and dropped New Mexico as a battleground. This one seems like it ought to be in play, but I can't justify having it on the list when the last poll there shows Obama up by 11%.
Don't Get Too Giddy or Too Depressed
As I said yesterday, despite all this analysis, this race is not over. There is much left to happen in the race and if the national polls were moved 5 points by a strong debate performance or a news event, we'd be looking at a totally different electoral map. So, if you are a Democrat, don't get over confident. And if you are a Republican, don't despair. Obama is up a couple of touchdowns, but it is only the third quarter.
Early voting has begun in Ohio. Since Obama is streaking right now in the polls, one would assume that the start of early voting is to his advantage. Depending on how many people vote early, it could make projecting a winner very hard as polls right before the election may not reflect how many people felt when they actually voted.
VP Debate Tasks
Here are my tasks for Sarah Palin and Joe Biden in the debate
1. Appear credible and informed -- make Katie Couric a long lost memory
2. Deliver the talking points without making them sound like talking points
3. Be Mccain's attack dog -- get nasty, but about Obama, not Biden
4. Hold on the "everywoman" charm while showing "superwoman" intelligence
1. Attack John Mccain relentlessly
2. Don't gaffe! (it'll be the only thing played on the news the next day if you do)
3. Do not, under any circumstances attack Sarah Palin or her qualifications directly, if you feel a need to attack, see#1
4. Avoid coming off as smarmy -- Biden has to put forth his "Blue Collar Delaware Joe" persona without grating with his "Bare-Knuckle Joe" persona
I have my doubts about whether VP debates really matter in the long run, but certainly Palin is in a better position to help Mccain than Biden is to help Obama. Palin can help just by looking credible and as I said yesterday, if it is remotely close (which it really could be), it is an expectations win for her. Biden on the other hand, probably can't help the streaking Obama any, but could do damage with a gaffe or by simply losing the debate.
I imagine this will be higher rated than the first presidential debate. It is on a weeknight vs. a Friday night and there is much more curiosity about Palin than the relatively (by now) well known commodities of John Mccain and Barak Obama.
I'll certainly be watching.