"Absent his ability to pick off any state won by the Democrats four years ago, he must prevent Obama from winning any of half a dozen Republican states that now appear vulnerable," Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray write in The Washington Post. "McCain's campaign and the RNC still point to Pennsylvania and, to a lesser extent, New Hampshire as potential pickups. But McCain has so many red states to defend that he may not have either the time or the money to convert Democratic turf."
But is it too late for state-by-state hopes, given Obama's financial edge? "He's too far in the hole," said Mike Murphy, a former McCain adviser. "He has to move the whole country his way to get back in the game, and at that point the North Carolina-type problems will fade and he will be back in battle in places like Colorado, Ohio, New Hampshire and Nevada."
Newt agrees: "This race is a long way from over," former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., tells ABC's Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" Friday. "Sen. Obama I think gave Sen. McCain the winning issue the other day in his conversation on 'spreading the wealth.' . . . If you get a four or five-point swing nationally, all of a sudden a whole group of states fall his way."
Still time for a late break? "The race in its final days retains a feeling of dynamism," Peggy Noonan writes in her Wall Street Journal column. "I think it is going to burst open or tighten, not just mosey along. I can well imagine hearing, the day after Election Day, a lot of 'You won't believe it but I was literally in line at the polling station when I decided.' "
Can the big break be made? "To stop Obama's momentum, he needs to underscore that he is his own man and not that guy in the White House. But that effort might not make a difference," Carla Marinucci writes in the San Francisco Chronicle.
ABC's latest Electoral College map has all the Kerry states either solidly or leaning Democratic -- plus New Mexico and Iowa, which went for Bush in 2004. That means Obama has to pick up just one of the battlegrounds to capture the presidency -- and it doesn't have to be a big state, either.
If Virginia flips, it's going to be an early night: "By every organizational measure, Obama's campaign appears to have the advantage -- it has nearly three times as many offices, has contacted tens of thousands more potential supporters, and has helped register nearly half a million new voters this year, most of whom state officials believe favor the Democrat," The Washington Post's Michael D. Shear and Amy Gardner report.
"A key to a McCain comeback will be whether Republicans have built a strong enough get-out-the-vote operation in a state where none has ever been needed, something many party leaders question," they write.
Can it happen in Florida? "Barack Obama has sent five of his most senior operatives to Florida -- two of them to focus on the single county that includes Miami -- for the duration of the presidential campaign, in a newly sharpened strategy to win the election by driving Democratic voter turnout in the Republican-dominated state," the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten writes. "The big bet on Florida and Miami-Dade County, Obama aides say, is based on the campaign's belief that it has secured enough supporters to win the state and must now ensure that those supporters get to the polls -- in contrast to states such as Ohio, where the campaign believes victory depends on persuading more voters to support Obama."