To make a long story short: we are behind, but definitely not out. We are where Hillary was when she suddenly came back from the dead in in the spring and almost won the nomination. Many of you remember 1976, which bears many resemblances to today. Gerald Ford almost won that electin. He closed a substantial double digit gap against Jimmy Carter. McCain is a better candidate than Ford but without the benefit of being an incumbent and Obama is worse than Carter. McCain appears to have adopted a significant part of Ford's 1976 battle plan, namely to drive Obama's negatives up by reminding voters that he is unknown and risky.
On the negative side, we are defending states late in the game (primarily VA, NC and IN) that should have been locked down a long time ago. This is a repeat of 1976 in that regard, but during that campaign, Ford was running against a Southerner so defending in VA and NC made more sense than it does now. I have my own feelings as to what is really going on with the polls here in VA, but we'll leave that for another day.
A few developments in the campaign signify where we are. Apparently, Senator Chuck Hagel's wife is backing Obama. This will make no difference anywhere except for the Omaha congressional district. Nebraska allocates one elector for each congressional district based upon the winner of that district. Obama is making a play to pick off a single electoral vote there and signs have pointed to McCain (as reported by Jim Geraghty and others) trying to make a play for one of Maine's.
The new direction of the campaign is clearly designed both to shore up McCain's base and to drive a wedge between Obama and the rural Democratic voters, much like Hillary did. If you look at the internals in recent NC and VA polling, you see Obama doing well in rural and western areas (such as the Shenandoah Valley) where McCain once led by double digits. These voters went for Hillary. So, McCain needs to shore up hisbase in these areas, particularly among evangelicals and pick off a bunch of independents and dems. I predict he will accomplish at least that much. This will pull VA, GA, NC and IN back into McCain's column and will help in OH and MO.
A lot of smart people think that we may be headed to an electoral tie. So both camps are looking to pick off electoral votes anyway they can. One logical option is taking a single vote in Maine or Nebraska, as noted above. Another option is to make a stand in one or two enemy states.
So what we have right now is that Obama appears to is be making a play for the Omaha, NE congressional district and strong plays for VA, NC and IN.
McCain is going for rural Maine and for PA, WI and Minn (maybe MI).
As it stands, Obama has a better chance to cherrypick than McCain. Historically, McCain's best chance is WI or MI, but his campaign seems to think the Hillary strategy will put PA in play.
If the rural staretgy works and keeps PA in play, I cannot imagine VA, NC, IN, OH or MO falling to Obama.
That leaves CO and NH as wildcards. Colorado looks to be the best potential Obama pickup, but that state has been known for some significant turnarounds. On the flip side, even though recent polling doesn't show it, most people view NH as a possible McCain pickup of a state that Kerry won in 2004. This is based mostly on McCain's existing appeal in that state and its reputation for embracing maverick politicians such as McCain.
Obviously, if McCain can pick off PA, it will make it difficult for Obama in the same way Obama picking off OH would make things much harder (if not impossible) for McCain.
Having said all of that, don't let the polls bother you. You have to look closely at them and when you do you will notice that the partisan breakdowns generally heavily favor democrats. This does not reflect the trend going back twenty years. This piece on polster.com explains the reality of party id and what we are likely looking at.
There also exists the very real possibility tha we could be facing an electoral win by a candidate who nevertheless wins a minority of the popular vote. This is so due to Obama's massive support in the cities. Hence, McCain is making a final stand in the counties and suburbs.
No matter what narrative the liberals in the national media want to spin, this thing is not over until election day. You should not feel disheartened. We have an exciting Vice Presidential candidate and a rabid media bias that is motivating the base and helping us in the hearts and minds of the american people.