Last week, I talked about John McCain's four-day map, and what McCain would have to do in the closing days to win tomorrow. He hasn't closed the deal, to borrow a phrase. Here's the current pollster.com national vote graph:
Indeed, John McCain's numbers have inched up in the last week or two, but those must be coming from undecided voters, because Barack Obama's numbers are also inching up. Last week in that post, I offered to assume that the polls were off, and were oversampling Democrats and giving Obama 6 points that he didn't deserve. Let's assume that's still true; as long as the pollsters have stayed consistent in their methodology, the trend is clear and real even if the number is too high. And a 6-point swing toward McCain still has Obama up by 1.
But the national vote doesn't elect a president, state votes do, so once again, here's pollster.com's map from this morning:
The astute among you will note that this map is the same as the one from Thursday (except Arkansas slipped back to dark red), suggesting that McCain hasn't put any more states into play in the last surge of his campaign. Remember that his strategy is to win Pennsylvania, which, if we spot him 6 points, he won't do. (Zogby, the pollster that Republicans loved for 24 hours last week because his one-day tracking sample gave McCain a one-point lead on Friday, has a new PA poll out showing Obama up by 14.)
But this post is supposed to be about Obama's map. Since we spotted McCain 6 points, Obama ends up losing all of the yellow states, including places where he's been polling consistently (if not highly) ahead like Florida. The easiest thing for Obama to do, with no yellow states turning blue, is hold every dark blue state and win one of the light blue ones (Nevada would mean a 269-269 tie, resolved undoubtedly in Obama's favor by the House of Representatives). Obama is ahead in three of those four states by more than the 6-point handicap we offered McCain; the most likely pick-ups are, in order, CO, NV, VA, and OH. The last two are the bigger electoral prizes, and if McCain were to somehow win Pennsylvania, Obama has to win one of those two states. If Obama holds PA, it's over likely to be all over. If Obama holds PA and wins VA or OH, then McCain is really toast. Which is why in my answers to the contest (enter here!) I predicted the AP would be calling this race very early in the evening. If Obama wins these crucial Eastern time zone states, it will be an early, early night.
After two presidential election nights in a row of barely any sleep, tomorrow night will be a refreshing change.
(For a similar kind of post, see Nate Silver at 538.)