The Barack Obama-John McCain Race Is Too Close to Call

Anyone who tells you otherwise is clairvoyant, nuts, or deep into the sauce.

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If anyone tells you that they know who, between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, is going to win in November, that person is a seer, a drunk, or delusional. From where I sit, there are strong arguments for an Obama victory this year, there are strong arguments for a tossup, and there are increasingly strong arguments for a McCain squeaker victory.

What else could explain yesterday's Quinnipiac poll showing McCain gaining in the important swing states of Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota?

Arizona Sen. John McCain has inched ahead of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Colorado; come within inches in Minnesota and narrowed the gap in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls of likely voters in these battleground states, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com and released today.

The Colorado poll, in particular, is problematic for the Obama campaign, since Democrats have great hopes this year of making headway in traditionally Republican western states.

Obama draws an adoring crowd of 200,000 in Berlin. He pulls ahead in national polls. Meanwhile, McCain, who has run a near-disastrous campaign, inches up in key swing states? Go figure. I say, give Obama the guitar he so richly deserves and make him a rock star. Give McCain a war to run somewhere. And let voters redo the primaries so they can nominate two more mainstream candidates.

Anyone who says the election is over and Obama is the victor reminds me of the Obama partisans drumming Sen. Hillary Clinton out of the race and turning off millions of potential Democratic supporters in the process. They do their candidate a much greater service if they duct-tape their mouths.

Rasmussen Reports presents two well-written arguments (one for a sure Obama victory, the other for a tight race), parts of which I post here for your enjoyment. The first was written by academics Alan Abramowitz, Thomas Mann, and Larry Sabato:

Except for a few days when the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls showed a tie, Barack Obama has led John McCain in every national poll in the past two months. Obama's average margin has consistently been in the 4-6 point range during this time. By contrast, the polls in 2000 and 2004 showed much more variation over time. State polling results have also consistently giv0C1AFDF1.SIGen Obama the advantage. According to realclearpolitics.com, Obama is currently leading in 26 states and the District of Columbia with a total of 322 electoral votes; McCain is currently leading in 24 states with a total of 216 electoral votes. Obama is leading in every state carried by John Kerry in 2004 along with six states carried by George Bush: Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada and Colorado. A seventh Bush state, Virginia, is tied.

The second piece was written by James Campbell, a political science professor:

Republicans have one clear advantage in this election. Despite the party's best efforts, Republicans will nominate the most electable candidate in their field and a candidate who looks to be more electable than his Democratic opponent. Setting aside the lack of enthusiasm for McCain in the GOP base and lingering resentments that Clinton's supporters have toward Obama, McCain should be a good deal more acceptable to moderate swing voters than Obama. At least that is what the record indicates.

One observation—and it's anecdotal, not data-based—is that Obama supporters seem so taken by their candidate, they get defensive when one points out his flaws. Some even pull out the race card when his flaws are mentioned, as if anyone who has the audacity to mention his failings (flip-flopping, e.g.) does so because of race bias.

McCain's supporters, on the other hand, recognize his failings as a candidate and are more open to talking about them. Does this portend anything in particular for the November elections? Who knows?