Pennsylvania appears within the margin of error, and a last-minute surprise could turn the race in McCain’s favor — or so they would like to think. Team McCain held a press conference today with campaign leaders Rick Davis, pollster Bill McInturff, Mike DuHaime and Christian Ferry to discuss the latest in national and state polling.
Davis says we’re witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in political history, or at least since McCain won the primaries. Crowds are huge, and energy is high. Sarah Palin is electrifying crowds and bringing people back into the game. They feel they have the momentum, increasing polling in every battleground state over the past week, and have gotten past the effect of the financial collapse.
Team McCain says they have Iowa as a dead heat, and Obama seems to confirm that. He’s going back to Iowa over the weekend. If Iowa was not in play, Obama wouldn’t bother. Team McCain seems to believe that more than a few Obama states may be heading back into play.
McInturff says that intensity is increasing among core Republican coalitions, and that has brought a narrowing of the gap in party identification. He predicts a final gap of 3-5 points. McCain has always run ahead of party ID, and they see this as a big plus. He also sees Obama’s numbers dropping in battleground states, and thinks Obama will have a tough time getting to 50%.
Turnout models show a big response from Republicans as well as Democrats. He thinks this will be closer to 2004 than 2000, and it may improve even more over the weekend. McInturff says that this will be a close election, but that McCain is very much in it.
On the GOTV efforts, they say that they have spent more money on turnout in the past two months than any other election. The RNC’s ability to raise money has given the GOP parity on GOTV and in advertising. Their turnout efforts grow week-on-week, and may be the most underreported aspect of the campaign. The microtargeting, VOIP efforts, and analytical models continues to improve the GOTV efforts. They’ve made 5.3 million targeted calls and doorknocks in the past week, and 1.3 million yesterday, to persuadable voters, and 24 million to date. That’s a major improvement over 2004 and 2006, and they expect to make 17 million more in the next 72 hours.
On absentee and early voting, they are seeing big increases in the number, but not much different in the party-ID gap. In Florida, McCain has an advantage in the total number of both. Nevada has about the same breakout as it did in 2004. Pennsylvania gave the GOP a lead on absentee ballots, 56-44, and younger voters are in roughly the same proportion as they had been before. New Democratic registrants this year actually make up a somewhat lower proportion of early voters in PA.