Memo to Steve Schmidt: McCain Is Not Where Gore Was

In Adam Nagourney’s piece today on the McCain campaign’s how-we-can-still-win scenario, McCain strategist Steve Schmidt made the following assertion:

“The McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush one week before the election of 2000.”


Here are the results of the 10 most recent independent national polls:

Obama, 52-39 (CBS/New York Times)

Obama 52-45 (Rasmussen)

Obama, 50-43 (Hotline)

Obama, 54-43 (ABC/Washington Post)

Obama, 49-46 (Battleground)

Obama, 51-41 (Zogby)

Obama, 52-42 (NBC/Wall Street Journal)

Obama, 51-45 (Gallup)

Obama, 49-40 (Fox)

Obama, 44.8-43.7 (IBD/TIPP)

That last poll, from IBD/TIPP, has been pushed exhaustively by the McCain-leaning pundits, but there’s good reason to discount it. As points out, the 1-point race that they found is the result of a dubious 74-22 percent advantage for McCain among 18-to-24-year-olds. It is widely assumed that Obama will win that age group by about 20 points. If the IBD/TIPP poll were adjusted accordingly, it would be in line with all of the other recent polls and show a healthy Obama lead.

Now, here are the results of the three independent national polls released this same week eight years ago:

Bush, 47-46 (Washington Post)

Gore, 46-45 (CNN)

Gore, 46-42 (CBS/New York Times)

Also, at this point in 2000, ABC’s Electoral College projections showed Bush favored in states worth 213 electoral votes, with Gore ahead in states totaling 186 – both well short of 270. By contrast, Obama is now past 270 in most projections – the first time since 1996 that one candidate appears to have reached the magic number before Election Day.

In fairness, there were some mid-October polls in 2000 that showed Bush pulling ahead by statistically significant margins, but he never consistently enjoyed the leads that Obama has now enjoyed for weeks. When Bush flirted with a double-digit lead in 2000, it was considered an outlier, and the finding was rarely replicated in other polls. By this point in 2000, the polls had narrowed and the race was indisputably close. This one, right now, isn’t. Memo to Steve Schmidt: McCain Is Not Where Gore Was