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Closing the case: four more reasons McCain should win

It's not like he hasn't done the politically impossible before.

In two previous postings, here and here, I have discussed six reasons why Sen. John McCain should emerge victorious in tomorrow’s race for the White House. To recap, they are media bias, oversampling of Democrats by most polling organizations, Obama campaign smugness, his long list of criminal and radical associates, the center-right majority of America’s voters and the uncounted millions of PUMAs hiding under cover, coiled like a spring to attack their prey.

There are more.

McCain has cut deeply into Obama’s once seemingly insurmountable lead on the question of which candidate is better able to turn the economy around:

McCain scored sharp gains on the pivotal issue of jobs and the economy in the past week, helping him gain a bit on front-runner Barack Obama and narrow the presidential race as it heads into the final week, according to an Ipsos/McClatchy Poll released Tuesday.

The poll found Obama’s margin over McCain on who’s stronger on jobs and the economy — by far the top issue in the country — down from 16 points to 7 points in one week.

Thanks to Joe the Plumber, McCain has been better able to define Obama as a tax-raiser and an income re-distributor.

Also helping McCain on the economic front are the lowest gasoline pump prices the nation has seen since May of 2007:

Gasoline prices fell to their lowest level in more than a year and a-half Wednesday, according to a nationwide survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations.

The average price of unleaded regular gas dropped 4 cents to $2.589 a gallon, according to the survey released by motorist group AAA.

Gas has fallen 42 straight days, since Sept. 17, just after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike battered the Gulf coast. The last time gas was this low was Mar. 26, 2007. (See correction.)

Prices are now down 37.1%, or $1.485, from the record high price of $4.114 a gallon set July 17. The average price dropped below $3 a gallon on Oct. 18 for the first time in nearly nine months.

And now, just hours away from the polls opening, coal has become a campaign issue with the discovery of an interview containing this Obama quote:

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

John McCain and Sarah Palin have been having a field day with Obama’s lump of coal in the stockings of energy producers and consumers in their closing campaign rallies.

Even worse, Obama said in the same interview that that his cap-and-trade policies would make energy prices skyrocket:

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

Between higher energy prices from Obama-style cap-and-trade and higher gasoline prices from his determination to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil companies, undecided American voters should be seeing a vote for Obama as somewhat equivalent to taking a loaded gun and shooting themselves in the wallet.

As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, surrogates have loaded guns of their own, and they continue to shoot the Obama campaign in the foot. Perhaps Team Obama thought it had inoculated their guy from such tomfoolery by putting a tight muzzle on Joe Biden’s mouth, but there were others waiting to pick up the slack. First, Gov. Bill Richardson defined down the middle class, making some wonder if anyone would actually get the tax cut Obama never misses an opportunity to promise. Then liberal Rep. Jerry Nadler made an astounding comment on Obama’s political courage – saying that in essence that the junior Senator from Illinois didn’t have it. The Nadler shot only serves to reinforce the McCain-Palin claim that theirs is the only presidential ticket with candidates who possess stout political spines.

Finally, the strategic centerpiece of Obama’s campaign, the attempt to link John McCain to President Bush and cast a potential McCain administration as a third Bush term, failed miserably. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Obama and his surrogates seized every opportunity to make the case, but it didn’t sell:

The biggest arrow in the Democrats’ quiver is cut from an old, wooden meme that asks Americans to transfer their visceral hatred of President George W. Bush onto John McCain. If there’s a way to link the Arizona senator to the lame duck president, you better believe the Democrats have thought of it. Voting record? Bush and McCain agree ninety percent of the time. Economic issues? Just “more of the same.” Those adoring hugs between McCain and the president? They’re the kicker of every Obama ad.

But so much for that. After four months of stagnating and ultimately drooping support for Barack Obama among the anti-Bush independents, it’s time to concede that the strategy isn’t working. More than half the country considers McCain a legitimate “agent of change,” according to a September Gallup poll. In key blocs such as independents and Americans making more than $75,000, he’s tied with Obama within the margin of error.

How can Americans consider McCain an agent of change when Democrats keep reminding them that he’s just like President Bush? To amend a line from Obama’s convention speech: It’s not because Americans don’t get it; it’s because average American doesn’t care.

As Peter Balk wrote in the New York Times Magazine last week, America has moved on from the Bush legacy. The surge has taken Iraq casualties off the front page. The Democratic Congress has taken the policy-making off the White House agenda.

The failure to make the election all about Bush-McCain by the Obama campaign has made the election all about Obama. What independents are mulling over right now, just hours before they will go to the polls, are questions about – not McCain or Bush – but Obama. Who is this guy? Can we trust him? What will he do in the event of a major world crisis? What if Iran tries to make good on its promise to make a “rotting corpse” out of Israel, one of our staunchest allies? Will he really cut taxes? Has he ever voted to do so? This is not where the Obama campaign planned to be at this stage of the election.

So in addition to the six reasons previously given why John McCain should win the presidential election, I have added four more – his gains in the eyes of voters as a trustworthy manager of the economy, new doubts about Obama on energy matters fueled by old promises, loose cannons in the Obama ranks and the failure of Team Obama’s most important strategic goal. That makes ten important things, all of which are working in John McCain’s favor as voters prepare to cast their ballots.

A victory tomorrow for McCain will be all the sweeter because he will have beaten not only the vaunted Obama campaign, but the media, the pollsters and expectations as well. But it’s not like he hasn’t done it before.

- JP

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