The Note: Grounded Control

It's 52-44 in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking: "John McCain's crossed back over the 50 percent threshold as a "safe" choice for president, but he's failed to push Barack Obama below it -- and when risk is off the table, the race reverts to Obama's advantage on issues and empathy alike," ABC polling director Gary Langer writes.

New Time/CNN numbers in some battlegrounds:

Pennsylvania: Obama 55, McCain 43

Ohio: Obama 51, McCain 47

Nevada: Obama 52, McCain 45

North Carolina: Obama 52, McCain 46

Arizona: McCain 53, Obama 46

Giving the GOP hope: "After weeks of being out-advertised by Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and the Republican Party are nearly matching the Democratic nominee ad for ad in key battleground markets," per the AP's Jim Kuhnhenn. "Ad spending and ad placement data obtained from Democratic and Republican operatives show that in the closing days of the campaign the Republican voice has grown louder in states such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania."

Yet: "Those near-parity levels in crucial states come with a price. McCain has had to trim back his ads in Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, giving Obama even greater edges there."

"Republican John McCain, bolstered by about $18 million in late spending by the Republican National Committee, will hold his own against Democrat Barack Obama on the airwaves in the closing days," Brian C. Mooney writes in The Boston Globe. "But over the course of the long campaign, the Obama operation will have spent more than $100 million more than McCain and the RNC on TV ads, according to data compiled for the Obama campaign and reviewed by the Globe."

Mooney continues: "In the final week, McCain and the RNC will outspend Obama's campaign in the battlegrounds of Ohio, Florida, and Missouri, the report shows. The RNC made its heaviest last-minute purchases of airtime in Florida ($4.2 million) and Ohio ($3.4 million), two Bush states in which Obama is even or slightly ahead in the polls."

On Wednesday, McCain was left on the sidelines: "John McCain blasted Barack Obama's 'gauzy, feel-good' 30-minute network ad Wednesday night as having been bought and paid for with 'broken promises,' affordable only because Obama did not accept public financing," The Hill's Sam Youngman writes.

"Frankly, what's disturbing about it is that [Obama] signed a piece of paper back when he was a longshot candidate," McCain told Larry King, per ABC's Tahman Bradley. "And he signed it, said I won't -- I will take public financing for the presidential campaign if John McCain will. I mean, it's a living document."

McCain's got a running mate who's feeding the living tension: "In an interview with ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas, the Republican vice-presidential nominee was asked about 2012, whether she was discouraged by the daily attacks on the campaign trail, and would instead pack it in and return to her home state of Alaska," per ABC's Russell Goldman.

Palin said she's still anticipating victory: "I'm just thinking that it's going to go our way on Tuesday. . . . I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we've taken, that would bring this whole -- I'm not doing this for naught. We're going to progress. We're going to keep going forward."

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