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Can McCain Lead a Late Rally?

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A couple of days ago, Sean Oxendine explained at TheNextRight why historical precedent indicates a John McCain victory is still possible. Oxendine pointed out that in close-fought change vs. the steady-old-hand elections, voters tend to either break heavily for change and turn the election into a rout (i.e. 1980) or they get nervous at the last moment and flood toward the steady-old-hand, which is what happened in 1996 when Bob Dole made a late rally (sad that the challenger ran the steady-old-hand campaign, but true) and again in 2000 when Al Gore made up more than five points in the election’s closing moments.

So, can we expect a late surge for McCain? It’s possible, particularly with the new Associated Press-GfK poll showing Barack Obama with just a 44% to 43% lead among likely voters. Obviously other polls report wider margins, but there is not yet an indication that Obama is about to stage a rout.

Of course, the real problem for McCain might not be in closing the popular vote gap but in accumulating enough electoral votes. Note that neither Dole’s nor Gore’s late rallies resulted in a win.

Still, I’m not convinced we won’t have a close election on our hands. We’ll just have to see what happens.