Dick Morris: Obama might still have a small chance to win

The Fox News genius bravely warns that it is too early to "write Obama off."

By Glenn Greenwald
Published October 29, 2008 10:20AM (EDT)

(updated below)

A new AP/GfK poll today of 8 swing states shows Obama leading in all 8 of them -- 6 of them by wide margins (CO, NV, NH, OH, PA, VA) and 2 by small margins (FL, NC).  The RCP average of all polls shows Obama with a national lead of 6.8%, roughly what it has been for weeks, and also shows Obama with a lead in every swing state.  And FiveThirtyEight's model currently estimates that Obama's probability of winning is 96.2%, while McCain's is 3.8%.

But Fox News political strategist/genius Dick Morris this morning has a message for Obama supporters:  while things obviously look extremely bleak for your candidate right now, there is still a small chance that, if everything goes absolutely perfectly for Obama, he still might be able to eke out a narrow victory:

As Obama has oscillated, moving somewhat above or somewhat below 50 percent in all the October polls, his election likely hangs in the balance . . . Likely a disproportionate number of the undecideds will vote for McCain.

But don't write Obama off.  His candidacy strikes such enthusiasm among young and minority voters that there is still a chance that a massive turnout will deliver the race to the Democrats.

It certainly may be true, as Morris argues, that the bulk of undecided voters will vote for McCain.  It also may be true (or it may not be) that such an event will be worth a point or modestly more for McCain.   And while I view polls as generally reliable -- because they've proven to be -- they're not an infallible science, rendering reasonable the admonition that the outcome is still uncertain.  

Still, it's just staggering to ponder the amount of reality-denial (or deliberate reality-distortion) needed to urge that Obama, though a real long shot, shouldn't be "written off," because there's still a small chance that he might pull it out.  It also enables Morris to claim victory either way -- heroically so if McCain wins ("I predicted undecideds would break for him") and also if Obama wins ("I warned that he shouldn't be written off").  To a Fox News viewer, that comes from the most insightful and prescient political observer in the country.


UPDATE:  I'll leave it to polling experts to decide whether it's statistically justifiable to declare that the proverbial "tightening" is now happening, but what is clear is that several polls now show Obama with his smallest national lead in quite some time, including this morning's Rasmussen poll (50-47:  "the first time McCain has been within three points of Obama in more than a month and the first time his support has topped 46% since September 24") and this morning's Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll (Obama with a 5-point lead).

None of that contraction of Obama's lead has been reflected in the key state polls (which, if anything, continue to show Obama with a large and growing lead), and none of it bears at all on the absurd attempt by Dick Morris to depict McCain as the prohibitive favorite with Obama enjoying only a small and theoretical chance of success.  But it is worth underscoring that the election isn't decided until it's decided.

Glenn Greenwald

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