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Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Selzer poll of Indiana, proud birthplace of Kurt Vonnegut, Orville Redenbacher, and our own Shankar D, puts Obama three points ahead in the state. I wouldn't give it any credibility at all if it were anyone but Ann Selzer, who is widely considered the gold standard of polling in the Midwest. (You might remember Selzer & Co. from the Des Moines Register poll that was the first to predict Obama's big win in Iowa.)

More than anything else this reflects the change in momentum I've been talking about all week, arising from five or so factors:

* the evaporation of the convention bounce in general and the Palin bounce in particular;
* the continued stunning collapse of the banking system;
* the widening perception that McCain has been running an unusually dishonest, throw-shit-at-the-wall campaign;
* self-inflicted wounds from the McCain camp, most importantly the "fundamentals" line;
* and Obama (finally) taking a tougher line.

Marc Ambinder has a post up talking about the different approaches McCain and Obama take to a state like Indiana. McCain is right that if Obama wins Indiana, he probaby already won the election somewhere else. But by the same token McCain is playing on such a limited field that he can't allow Indiana to go uncontested, which if nothing else will be a nice drain on his resources and time. As has been said here time and time again, on a state-by-state level McCain is pretty clearly on defense, which bodes well; an unexpectedly successful GOTV operation anywhere in NV, CO, VA, IN, OH, FL, or even NC could be enough to put Obama over the top.

With the map above, even an unexpectedly strong showing in Montana (vote Ron Paul) would do the job. And don't think Obama's strategy people aren't on this; they've even put resources in Omaha, Nebraska, to try to win the city's lone electoral vote.

In terms of how-we'll-actually-win, the eight-point lead in New Mexico from Survey USA is much more promising. I think McCain will probably retain Indiana, when it comes down to it, unless it's the sort of blowout that's already cost him Ohio; putting New Mexico in the Obama column is a strong sign for us even if we're trying to win by just one EV.