McCain’s Hopes Hinge on Pennsylvania

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As every indicator points to a Barack Obama win tomorrow, let’s pause to consider if there’s any reasonable scenario that could lead to a John McCain electoral college win, even if he loses the popular vote. Unless the state-by-state polls are grossly inaccurate, McCain’s chances are not great — but he does have one potential path to victory.

It all begins with McCain winning Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes.

After McCain’s intense focus on the state, poll numbers have tightened in Pennsylvania. If there’s a last-minute surge in McCain’s favor, his road to victory becomes much easier.

With a Pennsylvania win, McCain only needs to keep Florida , Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina in the red column, plus one other Bush state that’s now considered leaning blue (Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico or Virginia). That sounds like drawing to an inside straight, but polls indicate McCain is ahead in North Carolina and Missouri and is just a few ticks behind in Florida and Ohio. He has little chance in Iowa or New Mexico, but Colorado, Nevada and Virginia are all close enough to conceivably go for McCain.

But what if McCain loses Pennsylvania as expected? At that point, he has to rely on winning Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and either Iowa, Nevada or New Mexico. That’s not drawing to an inside straight. That’s drawing dead.

If the networks call Pennsylvania for Obama early in the night, it’s over for McCain. At that point, his only hope would be for all the other polls to have been very, very wrong.