Could another candidate who wasn't a lifelong Capitol Hiller — that is, obsessed with earmarks — and knew how to run against a Democrat have done better? Well, perhaps, but no candidate who fit that bill was available this time around. Some of the candidates who lost to McCain — say, Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney — might have made better arguments against Obama, but they weren't as centrist or as experienced as him, which would have granted Obama the advantage anyway. Rudy Giuliani might have mounted an effective challenge, but we've learned that the Republicans will never nominate someone that liberal on social issues.
So McCain might have been his party’s best option under these very difficult circumstances. And, on Tuesday night, we'll know very early on how that worked out. Unless McCain can somehow pick up a large state he's not expected to win (Minnesota or Pennsylvania), he must sweep North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Missouri, Colorado and one or two other small states, to boot. It’s possible, given a last-minute surge, but still an uphill struggle. (Hail to the new chief.)
To read the “Presidential Tote Board” blog, go to thePhoenix.com/blogs/toteboard. Steven Stark can be reached at email@example.com.
Odds: 1-5 │ this past week: 1-3
Odds: 5-1 │ this past week: 3-1
: Stark Ravings
, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Barack Obama, More