If you're a conservative looking at the odds, what should really scare you is not the 80 to 90 percent chance that Barack Obama is the next President. It's the very real chance that Democrats could get to 60 or tantalizingly close to it in the Senate. President Barack Obama is unfortunate. President Barack Obama with 60 votes in the Senate means a socialist America.
If the Presidential race manages to get tighter than it is, it won't matter in the end. A loss is a loss, just as a win is a win. Obama will claim -- and the media will grant -- a mandate regardless of the margin. Bush was pretty darned influential in his first term having won by 537 votes. The margin of victory in Presidential races is academic.
But marginal gains will matter in the Senate. Losing by a little or losing by a lot makes a big difference -- dictating targeting decisions for one, possibly two six year terms to come.
There a group of seats we should not lose that are teetering on the brink -- North Carolina, Oregon, Minnesota, and now, quite possibly Georgia.
The NRSC and the NRCC, like the McCain campaign at the national level, are being buried by the Democrats' massive financial advantage. In 2006, the RNC was able to come to the rescue of these committees. In one case, I believe one of their independent expenditures tipped the outcome with their humorous, effective, and perfectly legitimate ad against Harold Ford in Tennessee.
This time, no such help has been forthcoming in Senate races. The RNC IE unit has targeted one and only one candidate: Barack Obama, with $15 million.
Extraordinary circumstances compel us to begin considering different strategies, including a break with the RNC's tradition as the Presidential committee in Presidential years.
The RNC's IE unit should drop at least $15 million on 4 or 5 key Senate races that are salvageable in the last three weeks.
And the decision for Victory to stay in or pull out of states should be heavily influenced by the presence of key Senate and House contests.
And McCain should start explicitly making the argument for divided government, with him as the only hope of preserving it. This is unlikely to be a voting issue at the Presidential level, but we need to get the idea percolating that we are about to elect Obama with unchecked, unlimited power. Power corrupts... absolute power corrupts absolutely, etc.
Obama at 56 seats makes life hard, but a lot more bearable than Obama at 60 seats. The death of the filibuster would be like losing the White House all over again.
And while we all to some extent will continue to fixate on the Presidential race, we need to understand the very real consequences if the Senate is irredeemably lost, and if our bench in the House is wiped out. You may not know it, but conservative icons like John Shadegg (AZ-3) and Tom McClintock (CA-4) could lose.
And all the punditing in the beyond-the-margin Presidential race is going to matter a whole lot less than having at least something to fight the Obama agenda with next year.