Final Polls - Weird


McCain backers can take some hope from the fact that some polls have been moving in his direction at the national and state level.

Others, not so much.

There is so much polling going on (an average of about 30 a day both state and national) that one must look at them in the aggregate in order to get a sense of what is happening.

From several polling sources we can confidently say that McCain is closing the gap in Pennsylvania. By how much is a matter of some dispute but I think it safe to say he is within striking distance.

McCain is also either slightly ahead or very slightly behind in North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and Florida while lengthening his small lead in Arizona, Montana, and North Dakota.

Recent polls suggest that he is falling further behind in Ohio, making up ground in Florida, with Colorado almost being out of reach.

But he has closed the gap in Virginia and made that state competitive again after trailing by double digits just a couple of weeks ago.

What to watch for tomorrow night? Allah has your election night scorecard . First, he points out the poll closings in the following vital states (all times EST):

7 p.m. Indiana, Virginia
7:30 p.m. Ohio, North Carolina
8 p.m. Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri
9 p.m. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, North Dakota
10 p.m. Nevada, Montana

Here's his common sense rules of thumb to follow:

1. He can afford to lose any single state above the line, no matter which it is, so long as he wins all the others.

2. He can afford to lose any combination of Indiana, Virginia, and Missouri (but not all three), so long as he wins every other state above the line.

3. Under no circumstances can he afford to lose a combination of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. Two out of three is a must, plus every other state above the line. McCain currently trails in all three by anywhere from four to seven points, per the RCP state averages. (Fun fact: Given my assumptions, if Maverick wins Pennsylvania and Virginia, Obama wins Ohio, and they split Indiana and Missouri, it’s 269-269.)

What this means, given The One’s lead, is that each hour on Tuesday night operates almost like an elimination game. If McCain wins Indiana and Virginia, he survives and advances to the next round against Ohio and North Carolina. If he wins both of those, he moves on to the eastern regional championship in Pennsylvania and Florida. And if he wins both of those, he heads west for the Final Four Six. As I say, he can technically afford to lose one or two states early (depending upon which ones they are), but the bellwether omens will be grim if he’s dropped any battlegrounds before 8 p.m. And again, to win the election he’d almost certainly then have to win all six of those western states. If you believe PPP, not only does The One lead big in Colorado and New Mexico, but a majority of voters have already cast their ballots. Assuming that’s true, McCain’s margin of error above the line is virtually zero.

And this is McCain's potentially decisive disadvantage; Obama has perhaps as many as a dozen realistic scenarios where he can get to 270 electoral votes and win the election while almost everything must break right for McCain on election night for him to walk away the winner. As Allah points out, his margin of error is extremely slim.

But it is not impossible - especially given the weird way the polls are breaking these last few hours. The difference in some of them is staggering - unheard of in the annals of polling. Whether that means that people are lying or whether they are genuinely torn about who to vote for (I tend to believe the  latter given the enormous number of undecideds at this point), we will have to wait for the count on election night.

The longer the wait, the better for McCain. Let's hope we all lose a lot of sleep.