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McCain’s Iowa Upset Hope Fading

The Huffington Post flags this story from The Times of London, which examines the state of the presidential race in Iowa, where Sen. John McCain clings to the hope of pulling off an upset.

The Times caught up with a pair of African-American canvassers leaving McCain’s Midwest headquarters in Des Moines:

Are they volunteers? They look at each other sheepishly. “Not exactly,” replies one. “We work for an employment agency,” says the other. Who are they voting for? “I don’t want to say,” says the first woman. “Obama — of course!” whispers the braver of the pair.

They laugh, then look over their shoulders at the office behind them. “Don’t give him your name, he’ll put it in the paper,” says the cautious one, explaining that they cannot afford to lose their $10-an-hour jobs. “This is embarrassing. We’re doing this because we have to live. At least none of our friends can see us. We’re from Chicago — like Obama.

Leaving aside the idea that someone being paid $10 an hour to convince people to vote for a candidate is probably a poor substitute for a volunteer who passionately supports the candidate he is promoting, this anecdote is the least worrisome evidence for McCain cited in the article.

According to RealClearPolitics, Sen. Barack Obama leads McCain by an average of 11.4 percentage points in recent major polls in the state, which it lists as “solid” for Obama. As of yesterday, FiveThirtyEight.com, the electoral handicapping Website, gave McCain a zero percent chance of winning Iowa. Yet the campaign continues to devote significant amounts of its most valuable non-renewable resource — the candidates’ time — to the state. Both McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent much of Saturday in Iowa, with McCain appearing in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, while Palin visited Sioux City and Des Moines.

“Maybe they know something we don’t,” says Eric Woolson, who guided Mike Huckabee to victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses 10 months ago. “But in a year when we really needed to step up, we have failed to match the strides being made by our opponent.”

He admits to being surprised, if not hurt, that no one asked him to advise the McCain team in Iowa. Instead, he is devoting some of the final days before the election to research a business venture for selling catnip. [Emphasis added.]

If you were serious about winning a heavily contested state, such as Iowa, why wouldn’t you seek the advice of everyone with a proven record of turning out Republicans in that state?

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