Why Is McCain Going For Pennsylvania?

October 22, 2008

Nate Silver’s a smart guy and we love his polling site, fivethirtyeight.com.

Today Nate asks why the McCain campaign has decided to pull out of Colo., N.M., and a few other swing states and put all their eggs into the Pennsylvania basket. The argument Nate likes best is that the McCainiacs likely looked at their internal polling data and saw McCain’s deficit in Penna. as not too far off from the other states. And why run operations in a bunch of states with 6 or 7 electoral votes when you can concentrate on one state with 21 EVs? I’d say there’s a good chance that’s what happened. A bunch of polls show McCain down by double digits in Penna., but their internals (accurately or inaccurately) may show something different. They may not believe they’re going to win there, but they may believe they have as good a chance their as anywhere else.

Nate also cites Al Giordano’s argument that the McCain camp is getting ready to play the Wright/race card as their last-ditch strategy, and believe that a racist appeal will be more effective in rural Pennsylvania than it will in places like Colorado and New Mexico. Also (and I find this rather compelling too), small gains in the polls in Pennsylvania will rally the base more effectively than small gains across a large set of small states. If McCain tells his followers they can win with Pennsylvania, and then he goes up a point or two in the polls there, that could be enough to get a lot more knuckle-draggers out and voting.

This is, of course, all speculation – who knows what the McCain people are actually thinking. But there’s a great deal of internal logic to this. And it will be interesting to see if the McCain people do resort to the race card. At a minimum, going all KKK on Obama will get a lot of press coverage, which means free advertising at a time when McCain’s coffers are running low.

See Nate Silver’s article here.


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