This election is not going to be close no matter how many headlines from now until November try to play up the race as a horserace going down to the wire.
John McCain might seem like a long shot. He's the Republican nominee at a time when the two-term Republican President is wildly unpopular and Republicans are losing elections in perennially Republican districts and the party base isn't exactly drooling over him. He supported the president's unpopular efforts to transform Iraq and revamp Social Security; he was against the Bush tax cuts before he was for them. He's a 71-year-old Washington hand in a change election. And his 46-year-old opponent is a lot better at raising money, delivering speeches, drawing crowds and registering new voters.
Oh, let's just admit it: John McCain is a long shot. He's got a heroic personal story, and being white has never hurt a presidential candidate, but on paper 2008 just doesn't look like his year. And considering what's happening off paper, it might be time to ask the question the horse-race-loving media are never supposed to ask: Is McCain a no-shot?
Yes, he is a no-shot. Any Republican candidate this year would be a no-shot. The best Republicans can do this year is whine about how Obama has “flip-flopped” on a few issues (but nowhere close to the number of issues McCain has flip-flopped on) and point out his supposed inexperience. But in a change election, “experience” is not always a positive factor and stubbornly refusing to change positions when circumstances warrant it is precisely what got us into our current jams both foreign and domestic.
I can’t imagine even the most hard-core Republican can watch the new McCain ad that tries to blame Obama for the run-up in gas prices and not snicker or roll their eyes. They are desperate to the point of self-parody.
As Grunwald concludes, it is really quite simple at this point to predict the election outcome in November:
The media will try to preserve the illusion of a toss-up; you'll keep seeing "Obama Leads, But Voters Have Concerns" headlines. But when Democrats are winning blood-red congressional districts in Mississippi and Louisiana, when the Republican president is down to 28 percent, when the economy is tanking and world affairs keep breaking Obama's way, it shouldn't be heresy to recognize that McCain needs an improbable series of breaks. Analysts get paid to analyze, and cable news has airtime to fill, so pundits have an incentive to make politics seem complicated. In the end, though, it's usually pretty simple. Everyone seems to agree that 2008 is a change election. Which of these guys looks like change?