Key state polls leaning Obama's way

October 14, 2008 1:11:30 PM PDT
Three weeks from tomorrow night, we should, pending any problems with hanging chads or questionable voting practices, know who will be the 44th President of the U.S.

What seems like the longest campaign in history is 22 days from over - although as we know, three weeks can be a long time in politics. And anything can happen.

If you believe the polls - and we KNOW we can't always do that - the John McCain campaign is in trouble. The eight or so "toss-up" states are leaning towards Barack Obama. And, as we saw in 2000, it is not the popular vote but the electoral college vote that matters.

Which is why we've seen yet another shift in the McCain campaign strategy - enough shifts these past couple of months that even a few of his ardent supporters have publicly said they're getting political whiplash. Ed Rollins, the long-time Ronald Reagan staffer and the man who ran Mike Huckabee's ill-fated Republican primary campaign, says that the McCain campaign has been all over the map, in terms of strategy. And the kinder, gentler McCain that we saw on Friday, when he quickly corrected a woman who said Obama is an Arab by describing Obama as a good guy, is the result of some last-minute guilt by the Senator from Arizona. An awareness, perhaps, that in less than a month he will have to return to his colleagues and explain why he egged on angry and even racist crowds at his rallies.

His vice presidential running mate is also coming under fire from the same conservatives who wildly supported her at the outset. Is this a Republican Party that is now in something of a free-fall? It is a real question that many Republicans are asking themselves - no matter what the outcome of the election.

Tonight at 11, we'll have the latest from the campaign trail. As a reminder, Liz Cho and I will host a 30-minute debate special on Wednesday night, at 5:30 p.m., from the site of the candidates' debate at Hofstra University on Long Island.

Also at 11, we're following the economic crisis - as we will be doing, alas, for quite a while. The stock market - up by a record amount today, up more than 936 points. This, as investors, out of emotion or logic or maybe a bit of both, seem ready to get the market rallying again. Is it a blip or the real thing? We'll analyze that tonight.

We're also following the government bailout of the financial industry. Today, the nation's major banks met with Treasury Dept. officials - talking about ways to free up cash for the strapped financial institutions. A plan might be announced tomorrow.

And we're taking a look at the ways the economic downturn is affecting life around town. From declining tips at restaurants, to anticipated drops in tips for building "staff," to the dramatic increase in the number of "yard sales" that are sprouting up on weekends. They're all signs of a recessionary economy.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg, who is trying to get the New York City Council to overturn term limits, which voters have approved twice before, can claim a victory tonight. But it has nothing to do with his controversial attempt to stay in office by running for a third term: He's been named to Fitness Magazine's list of the fittest 50 people.

Bloomberg was named for his "initiative to reduce tobacco use." He and Microsoft's Bill Gates pledged $500 million to various anti-smoking campaigns around the world. And it was Bloomberg who virtually single handedly got smoking outlawed in public places in New York City, and mandated "calorie counts" at some restaurants.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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