At a debate sponsored by BGR Holding, Inc.  Republican strategist Ed Rogers faced off against fellow BGR associate and Democratic strategist Michael Meehan to discuss their views on the election.

Rogers started off by saying that as far as the elction goes “It’s not good for McCain but it’s not over” a statement that he repeated often during the hour long session today in Washington, D.C.  In looking at the difficulties that McCain faces Rogers said that he is facing three big hurdles.  The first is that only twice since 1850 has a two-term president (excluding FDR) been succeeded by a member of his own party.  Second, he is saddled with an unpopular president whose approval ratings are at 17% lower than Richard Nixon’s when he resigned.  Third and maybe most important of all is the fact that campaign with the most money has the advantage.  Considering that Obama has just announced raking in $150 million in September and is buying ads everywhere he will have maximum exposure during the last 2 weeks of the campaign while McCain struggles to match him.

The one reason that Rogers thinks that McCain is still in the race is that Obama has not been able to get above 50% in the polls and said that a front runner loses by staying below 50% and allowing his opponent to hang around.  Add in the fact that the last Democratic presidential candidate to get 50% was Jimmy Carter and you can see why he is still somewhat optimistic.

For Meehan’s part he was confident but cautiously optimistic.  After having worked on the Kerry campaign he know how quickly predictions of victory can turn sour and stopped short of calling for an Obama victory.

On the other hand he did point out that the Democrats are in great shape.  They have added over 300,000 voters to the rolls in North Carolina and another 687,000 Democrats in Florida giving them the possibility in a close race of winning both states.  Meehan added that traditionally 85& of newly registered voters do vote and those numbers alone in Florida could be enough to tilt the state to Obama.

Meehan mentioned that after being on the short-end of taxes for 25 years , McCain gave that issue back to the Democrats with his healthcare proposal that would tax benefits and for which Obama has been hammering him on in a countless number of ads.  Now the Democrats can play offense for a change on this issue and it is working.

While Meehan mentioned that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scares the living daylights out of him he is grateful that McCain didn’t use this against Obama as in polling earlier in the year he discovered that this was a key issue with voters.

And yet despite all the stumbles in the debates, in defections from some conservatives in the media and outright policy fumbles McCain is still within striking distance.  This has led to a strange declaration by Obama on the campaign trail telling supporters that he could still lose while the polls show he is gaining momentum at precisely the right time.

The truth of the matter is that no one really knows how the election will turn out.  Polls are based on sample of about 1,000 people and there is no lie detector hooked up to them when they answer questions.  So while the outlook for the GOP seems bleak there is still a glimmer of hope that voters will wake up and smell the coffee and vote for a divided government in November.

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