Another month of mumbling about comprehensive immigration reform and how “pristine” ANWR is, and who knows? He might make it down to single digits.

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The data’s not all bad. His small lead from two months ago is gone but that’s mostly due to Hillary Democrats coming home. He does amazingly well with independents throughout, beating Obama among that group on Iraq, terrorism, the economy(!), and illegal immigration(!!). He trails only on health care, and only there by four points. Which is to say, he’ll hold his own in the center; his problem is that as of right now only 10% of Dems are McCainocrats while 11% of Repubs are Obamicans (in a two-man race), and that includes 17% of Hillary supporters who still say they’re voting for McCain even though most of them probably won’t. He needs to improve on that, as he already leads by eight among indies (again, in a two-man race) which surely must be near his ceiling. The fine, fine line for Maverick is thus the same here as it’s been all along: How does he hold the GOP base while pandering just enough to the left to pull some of those centrist Democrats over? Maybe by talking about … comprehensive immigration reform and how “pristine” ANWR is?

Big advantages among independents here, too, and I’m guessing they’re related:

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It’s hard to imagine those numbers tilting much further in his favor but easy to imagine them tilting back towards equilibrium, especially with St. Barack ready to burn a few hundred mil on ads like that one today.

One more piece of data for you, this time from Rasmussen. Exit question: How likely is it really that Obama’s going to pile up the popular vote but lose a squeaker in the electoral college? Read this piece from TNR before you answer, as it argues that the circumstances of that scenario — racking up huge blue state wins and just enough narrow red state losses — are very hard to imagine if the “nationalization” of voter preferences from the 2004 election holds true this time. I’m not so sure they will given Obama’s ability to draw out certain southern demographics this time in greater numbers than Kerry could (namely, blacks and evangelicals) coupled with McCain’s inability to draw out the southern base.