Here are more highlights from a 15 minute strategy briefing posted on John McCain's website. Most of the information isn't new, but it's arranged in a way that might provide some comfort to those who believe that the campaign is listing.

Campaign manager Rick Davis acknowledges that the environment is "the worst in our party's history" but that McCain alone is the candidate who can outperform his party.

Listen to the full briefing here:


Davis says that McCain's image ratings “far surpass” Barack Obama. "They’re the highest for any official running for office today," he says.

Next, the campaign points out that people perceive McCain’s political ideology to be closer to their own than they do Barack Obama’s ideology. (Graphically, the line that represent’s voters views hews more closely to the line representing voters’ self-assessed ideology than Obama’s.)

Ideology comparisons in the battleground states:


Using Gallup’s polling, the McCain campaign asserts that the race has been within the margin of error for months. He and Obama split independents, but McCain gets more Republican votes than Obama gets Democrat votes (although Democrats are much more numerous than Republicans these days.) Accordingly, says Davis, “The GOP brand troubles have created a larger group of independent votes that we need to appeal to this election cycle than normal. No longer can a Republican candidate run by just running up the score with the base.” He notes that McCain outperforms the GOP’s generic ballot number by more than ten points nationally and in key regions, like the border southwest and in Florida, where McCain outperforms generic Republicans by seven points.

On issues in key states, Davis says that McCain “leads among the voters who are worried about the big issues,” including terrorism and immigration, although the campaign’s own chart shows that Barack Obama leads by 25 points among those votes on “the Iraq War” and by five points on the economy. No cite is given for the data.

Elsewhere, Davis says, “Watch California!” but gives no information beyond noting that a large percentage of voters declined to state their party preferences. Davis cites other polling data purporting to show McCain’s strength in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, but he gives no details. The McCain campaign views Connecticut as competitive in large part because of McCain’s association with Sen. Joe Lieberman. Davis writes that the campaign will heavily target those counties in southeastern Ohio and southwestern Pennsylvania where Hillary Clinton strongly outperformed Barack Obama (by as many as 44 percentage points). Note to Obama veepstakes vetters: Ted Strickland has incredibly high ratings in southeastern Ohio.


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