12:45 p.m. ET: Lots of attention on the Old Dominion, as Barack Obama rallies in Roanoke today, John McCain heads to Woodbridge tomorrow (will he stop at Potomac Mills?) and pundits ponder whether the rapidly transforming southern state is moving into the Blue column.
While he's in Prince William, McCain should a) consider buying a foreclosed house; and b) note this Politico/Insider Advantage poll of key counties across the land, which found Obama leading McCain in the P.W. by 8 points, even though Republicans have carried the county in White House races for close to three decades.
Statewide, Democrats have won the last two gubernatorial races, and Mark Warner is likely to win a massive victory over Jim Gilmore in the Senate race. Recent polling has shown Warner leading by about 30 points (sure, Warner was a popular governor, but 30 points?!). Gerry Connolly is favored to take over the NoVa House seat of the retiring Tom Davis, and the GOP might even manage to lose another House seat. Republican Thelma Drake is fighting to hold on against Democrat Glenn Nye down in Virginia Beach. Nye is getting help from some big Dem names, and the district is roughly 20 percent black. Obama may not have a "lonely victory" in the state on Nov. 4.
8 a.m. ET: 'Tis the season for turnout stories. Why? Well, because just about everything else has been covered, and turnout remains the last great unknown variable in a race whose basic storyline -- Barack Obama's going to win, unless something crazy happens -- appears to have hardened into the media's consciousness.
As the WSJ helpfully points out this morning, we don't ACTUALLY know who's going to win yet, nor do we really know who's winning at this moment (or at least, the size of Obama's lead). Just in the last week, we've seen surveys showing John McCain trailing by 9 and 14 points, and others suggesting he's only down 2 or 3 points. Every pollster out there is using a slightly different model for figuring out how many Democrats and Republicans to include. How many of those newly registered voters will actually show up? Will the "Bradley effect" hurt Obama? Or are the Democrats' numbers actually artificially low because of the growth of "cell-phone-only" households?
Those questions, of course, are why we play the whole game instead of just giving up in the 7th inning. (Yes, that's a reference to the ridiculous comeback by the Red Sox last night. Note that the last time the Sox improbably rallied in the ALCS, the Republicans won the presidential race. Just sayin'.)
Perhaps that's why Obama warned his supporters against overconfidence yesterday, citing the New Hampshire Democratic primary as evidence that he could always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Of course, Sarah Palin made a similar example of the Granite State the day before, pointing out that McCain had been losing in the state's primary before rallying to win. Is this a conspiracy by New Hampshirites to get the entire press corps to move back there?
McCain may be able to stage a comeback, but the storyline for Republicans in the Senate looks a lot more clear: They're going to lose a lot of seats, the only question is how many. Democratic candidates are definitely winning in the money race, but will that turn enough races for the party to actually reach 60 seats? It's too hard to say for sure yet -- turnout will be key.
October 17, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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