Since 1948, front-running candidates have typically preserved three-fourths of their October leads, said Larry M. Bartels, a political scientist at Princeton. Applying statistical theory to current polls, he pegged Mr. Obama’s chance of winning the popular vote at “a little over 90 percent.”
Mr. Bartels noted three factors that might skew the results. Two of them, a potential surge in voter turnout and the tendency of undecided voters to punish the party holding the White House during an economic downturn, appear to favor Mr. Obama. The third, racial resistance among white voters, favors Mr. McCain.
Focus on White Voters
Ahead in once-reliably red states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Mr. Obama need not win any new voters. If he holds his 50 percent share in Gallup’s survey, and third-party candidates like Bob Barr and Ralph Nader draw 3 percent collectively, Mr. McCain can pull no closer than 47 percent.
The McCain campaign sees scant opportunity to erode Mr. Obama’s strong support among blacks and his two-to-one edge among Hispanics. But Mr. McCain’s strategists think that one in five white voters — roughly 15 percent of the electorate — remains open to persuasion.
The campaign says that those voters tend to be younger, single, less educated and female, and that they also include senior citizens distressed over sagging investments. Those voters are the target audience for Mr. McCain’s recent attacks on Mr. Obama’s ties to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground.
If one-third of those voters shift allegiance from Mr. Obama to Mr. McCain, they will produce a 10-percentage-point swing, wiping out Mr. Obama’s lead. Mr. Obama’s strategists say voter preferences have hardened enough to make that difficult.
Mr. McCain’s assessment of whether it is possible may influence his campaign’s efforts to assail Mr. Obama’s character. Facing heavy criticism, Mr. McCain late last week turned ambivalent."
Is the suggestion to focus on the "racial resistance among white voters" the same as playing the race card?
And if McCain focuses on the "racial resistance among white voters," will it do more harm than good for McCain and the country?
If so, then it is lose - lose for McCain.