Reader Arjun Modi writes:
"I'm a bit skeptical. Abramowitz says the Republican would need to capture a "large majority" of independents and make "significant inroads" among Democratic identifiers to win in November. However, polling data belies that claim."
"The latest Cook poll has a partisan breakdown similar to the Gallup poll Abramowitz cited: 50% identify with or lean toward the Democrats, 39% for the Republicans. McCain wins independents by 5 points, hardly a "large majority", and gets 12% of Democrats, hardly "significant inroads" since that's just a hair above the Democrat defection rate (10% or 11%) for the last four presidential elections. Despite those slim numbers, McCain loses the overall general election by only one point to Obama, 44-45. Just a tiny improvement among independents and McCain wins the White House, without a "large majority" or "significant inroads."
If McCain plays dead, in other words, then Abramowitz's theory is more valid. It's also worth noting that McCain regularly runs more than 10 points ahead of his party in generic ballot tests. Democrats believe that Republican misfortunes will act like gravity on those numbers and will bring him back to earth. McCain's advisers believe that McCain can reduce the effect of gravity and not be as weighed down by his party as other Republicans will undoubtedly be in the fall.