The conventional wisdom has been that the race will tighten by election day, but so far this is not happening. The national polls are mixed, showing minimal if any gain for McCain, and more importantly the number of red states where Obama is competitive continues to rise.
Earlier in the week McCain supporters were encouraged by McCain briefly moving within two points of Obama in Gallup’s traditional projection of likely voters. This is the poll where McCain has his best shot as it bases predictions of likely voters on whether people have voted in the past, dismissing Obama’s advantages among new voters. Even in this poll McCain could only come within two points, and each time he appears to be catching up Obama surges to a new lead. Today Gallup has Obama up by eight points in the model which most likely underestimates Obama’s support.
Gallup has Obama leading by nine points in their expanded model which includes new voters who express interest in the election and an intent to vote. Their poll of all registered voters shows Obama leading by eleven points, tying his largest lead.
We cannot assume polls will be correct and it is still necessary to get out to vote, but it would be unprecedented for a candidate to come back from so far behind. While some past elections have tightened in the final days, so far there is not strong evidence of it happening ths year. Making it even more difficult for McCain is the fact that even should McCain’s overall support increase, a larger number of votes are now locked in than in the past due to early voting. Obama’s advantages in fund raising should also assist him in continuing to get out the vote through election day.