By Jack Shafer
The Washington Post
Sunday, October 19, 2008; Page B02
With Washington conventional wisdom predicting a landslide for Barack Obama, the 2008 election looks to be over. (Sorry, voters.) But how can a reporter prepare for the long-shot chance that John McCain — the comeback geezer — climbs that ladder with a load of bricks on his back one more time and wins in November? We’ve now heard plenty about the so-called Bradley effect, which holds that voters lie to pre-election pollsters about their intentions to vote for African American candidates. Here are some other angles for indemnification-minded journalists to pursue:
McCain‘s Michigan Miracle. The McCain campaign retreated from Michigan earlier this month when polls showed that it was impossible for him to win there. But could the new Obama margin be soft? If Obama and the Democrats take Michigan for granted, might that not depress turnout and give the state to McCain? If voters take an Obama victory for granted, might they give the ballot box a bye?
The Economy Boomerang. The wiggy economy helps explain some of the recent Obama surge. But what if the massive intervention of government into markets quiets voters’ nerves?
New Voter No-Shows. The number of registered Democrats is up 5 percent from 2004, says the Associated Press, and the GOP has lost 2 percent of its registered voters. But getting new voters to the polling stations is harder than getting seasoned ones there. How many new voters who won’t actually vote are reflected in the polls? Emergency sources to contact: Peter Nadulli, Alan I. Abramowitz, Henry Brady (presidential voting-patterns scholars) and David Gergen.
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