Monday, November 3, 2008

Kristol Straw Grasping

If you always thought that conservatives were the practical ones, the realists, the ones who didn’t invest a lot in flights of fancy and loopy dreams, William Kristol turns that on his head by saying that John McCain could still pull off the election and that, in fact, it would be a good thing for his liberal friends.

A McCain victory would be good for liberalism. Look at recent history. Jimmy Carter and a Democratic Congress begat Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress produced Newt Gingrich. Who knows what would follow a President Obama and a Democratic Congress? Here’s one possibility: President Sarah Palin.

So liberals shouldn’t be too upset at the idea of McCain winning. Could it happen?

It’s possible. What if the polls, for various reasons, are overstating Obama’s support by a couple points? And what if the late deciders break overwhelmingly against Obama, as they did in the Democratic primaries? McCain could then thread the Electoral College needle.

McCain would have to win every state where he now leads or is effectively even in the polls (including North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri). He’d have to take Florida and Ohio, where he’s about four points down but where operatives on the ground give him a pretty good shot. That gets him to 247 of the 270 votes needed.

McCain’s path to victory is then to snatch Pennsylvania (which gets him to 268), and win either Virginia, Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico (states where he trails by about four to seven points) — or New Hampshire, where he’s 10 points behind but twice won dramatic primary victories.


It’s an inside straight. But I’ve seen gamblers draw them.

If McCain wins, think of this column as a modest contribution to cheering up distraught liberals. If Obama prevails, I’m confident there are some compassionate liberals out there who will do the same for hapless conservatives as they hobble out to the wilderness.

Given Mr. Kristol’s record of being not just wrong but spectacularly, breathtakingly, and gloriously wrong in the past, this is the first time I’ve read something that actually makes me confident that Barack Obama will indeed win the election.

And I will happily escort Mr. Kristol into the wilderness.