Despite polls painting a bleak picture for the Republican ticket in Pennsylvania, the McCain campaign is still fighting in the state. Cindy McCain has two Pennsylvania events planned for Monday—one in Philadelphia and another in Yardley.
Politics magazine.com contributor Scott Detrow has this dispatch from the state…
With less than three weeks to go before the election, Barack Obama is playing offense. He's shifted the electoral battleground to states like Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana, and his campaign is talking about buying ads in North Dakota and Kentucky.
The Obama campaign is fighting too—Michelle Obama was in Pittsburgh this past weekend, and Joe Biden has practically moved back into his childhood home in Scranton.
But despite all the activity, recent polls show the state is more and more out of play. The latest Allentown Morning Call tracking numbers have Obama up 16 points, and nearly every recent survey gives the Democrat a double digit lead.
So what gives? Why is McCain still contesting Pennsylvania, and why isn't Obama moving on? Pollster G. Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College--one of the state's top political analysts--says it may have more to do with mentality than math.
"It would be psychologically devastating for the [McCain] campaign to walk out of the state,” Madonna says. “Pennsylvania is normally competitive. It was the most-visited state in 2004. More money has been spent here than any other state."
GOP officials insist the race is closer than the most recent polls suggest. Pennsylvania Republican Party spokesman Mike Barley says the party's internals show a single digit gap, and he argued there's still a large swath of undecided voters out here.
Barley also mentioned a theme that many Republicans have begun to voice: Barack Obama can't close the deal, while McCain always finishes strong. "Obama has faded in the end. Look at the primary. He lost here. He faded here."
Will McCain keep pressing in Pennsylvania through the election? Madonna gives the campaign another week.
"If he can get [Obama's lead] down to single digits--in public polls, not internal polls--it's outside doable." But Madonna remains dubious. "It would be a monumental feat for him to overcome this kind of deficit. We've had candidates in the past who have overcome a big deficit, but they started in August. Not three weeks out."
Scott Detrow is a contributor to politicsmagazine.com