This is worth screenshotting: A routine test of Pennsylvania's election web site, with fake vote results for the four candidates on the ballot, has Bob Barr winning the state.
I think Barr would take that. However, Barack Obama is still running away with the Keystone State, and Michael Barone tries to figure out why.
if SurveyUSA is to be trusted, the Philly suburbs are about to give Obama a significantly larger percentage than the 53 percent John Kerry won there in 2004.
Why? My hypothesis is that that is because places like the Philly suburbs are places where the recent decline in household wealth has been most conspicuous. Housing prices mean a lot more to you when your house started off at $400,000 and declined to $290,000 than they did when you started off (as may be typical of Scranton or a blue-collar town in metro Pittsburgh) at $140,000 and declined to $110,000. Newspaper coverage of our current economic distress focuses on the very poor (like a recent Washington Post story on North Carolina, which focused on an ex-convict in a cheap motel in Charlotte), but the people who are getting hurt most visibly in their lifelong project of accumulating wealth are the more affluent. They're the ones whose house values have most visibly and spectacularly declined, and whose 401(k) accounts and stock portfolios have tanked in the last few months as well. Folks in Scranton or in the cheap motel in Charlotte didn't expect to live comfortably ever after off their increased house values, 401(k)'s, and Merrill Lynch accounts; a $700 monthly check from Social Security is about what they have long expected and that's not in danger (yet). Folks in the Philly suburbs did expect to live comfortably off such assets.
I've shrugged off a lot of Barone's commentary this year but this sounds right. The McCain campaign seems utterly convinced that Joe Wurzelbacher cut to the heart of Obama's economic message and by repeating Joe's charge that Obama is a "socialist," they can win over swing voters. But the Reagan/Bush economic message that actually won those people over was… tax cuts! Low cost of living! Owning your own home!
I don't hear anything similarly reassuring in McCain's message to suburban voters.
UPDATE: The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn panics:
McCain's argument is both more focused and more relevant than it has been for a while. This is bound to improve his poll numbers.
Just as he types this, the McCain campaign pivots to talk about… Palestinian professor and former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi.
UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey at the conservative Hot Air blog:
We talked quite a bit about polling at last night's Talk the Vote event. All three hosts reminded people that Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan with eight days left in the race in 1980 outside the margin of error.
Eight days before the election, yes. The day before the first and only debate, which Reagan won, and which catapulted him into the lead.