I continue to be amazed by the number of Democrats I speak with who are convinced that John McCain is going to win the presidential election. They seem far more convinced of this fact than any of my Republican friends!
The fact is that, barring a major shocker (Obama is actually a robot from the future! McCain is secretly a former KGB agent!), this election is going to come down to one thing:
I've read some posts criticizing McCain for selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. They claim that it smacks of desperation, and that he shouldn't rock the boat right when he's been catching up with Obama.
That's rot. McCain's campaign knows full well that the deck is heavily stacked against them. George W. Bush may be the most unpopular president in history. The nation is sick of the Republican Party, which has squandered the goodwill it built up under Reagan on the kind of tawdry pork-barrel politics and corruption that they had rightly criticized the Democrats for. And to top it all off, McCain is despised by significant segments of his own party.
He's got to take major risks, because if he simply plays it safe, his only chance at victory is that Obama is secretly an Al-Qaeda mole and uses the final presidential debate to can Joe Biden and add Osama bin Laden as a running mate...then divorces Michelle Obama and enters into a gay marriage with Jeremiah Wright while burning the American flag.
On the other side, Obama's campaign continues to stay its course. Why did Obama eschew public financing? It wasn't just so that he could spend more money on TV ads. His entire life is a TV ad; his acceptance speech more highly watched than the American Idol finale, for goodness sake!
Obama's campaign plans to use the $300 million it's raising to build the most comprehensive voter turnout operation of all time. The Democrats often do poorly because many of their constituents (the poor, the young) fail to vote. Crotchety retirees may not be the sexiest supporters, but they darn well remember to vote (as long as there isn't a Matlock marathon on TV).
But this year, Obama's team will have massive numbers of paid staffers in every state, marshaling an even more massive army of volunteers. Hell, if nothing else, expect every potential Obama to voter to get a flood of text message reminders to register, vote, and encourage their friends to vote.
People have criticized McCain for gambling. When you're playing from behind, you've got to gamble--it will probably backfire, but without gambling, you've got no shot at victory.