Stuart Rothenberg cautions Republicans against getting their hopes up for November based on polls showing McCain close to even with Clinton or Obama in national match-ups and even or ahead of both in certain key states (such as Pennsylvania). Democrats will eventually rally around their nominee, however divisive the current contest may be. Just as disgruntled Republicans have begun to accept McCain, sooner or later Clinton supporters are going to accept Obama or vice versa. Chuck Todd made a similar point a few weeks back, ironically in a piece arguing that McCain can win:
[McCain’s lead] is a faux lead. If the de facto Democratic nominee is clear within the next 4-6 weeks, that person will see a poll bounce. And according to GOP pollster Steve Lombardo, it could be one heck of a bounce, like post-convention. He anticipates the Democratic candidate will move up 10 points once the primary race is over.
After that, “if McCain’s is hanging in, behind by 10 or so points,” Todd argues, “then it is clear he will have a shot. If the bounce pushes the Democratic nominee to as much as a 15 point lead, it may be very demoralizing to the GOP.” I don’t think the Democrat will get that big a bounce, but there are other indications that McCain has an uphill struggle ahead of him. The Republican’s fundraising numbers remain lackluster, and the Politico is now reporting that he may take federal money, which means the Democrats will easily be able to outspend him. Similarly tepid fundraising and anemic poll numbers for Republican congressional candidates nationwide suggest a bloodbath may be in the offing come November.
The Republicans certainly deserve to get soaked — but the prospect of unitary Democratic government is not one to be welcomed. The only silver lining I see the sliver of possibility that the GOP might get a major shakeup after two catastrophic electoral routs in as many years.