GOP strategists fantasize about McCain landslide; Update: Landslide canceled!

“Landslide” being a relative term: If all goes well he could win by 50 electoral votes, greater than either of Bush’s margins over two inferior Democrats. I don’t buy it, but admittedly that’s due more to my own natural knee-jerk pessimism and the hunch that the GOP brand is so poisoned that not even McCain will be immune than to any substantive analytical reason. Yeah, Obama’s money advantage will be enormous, but he’s been outspending Hillary too and she’s still pounding him in battleground states. And yeah, he’s going to mobilize black voters like no one before him, but McCain maybe can make that up among Latinos and independents leery of Wright. None of which is to say he will win, merely that he’s not a sure loser the way any other Republican would have been this year.

Among the 10 strategists interviewed by Politico for this story, there was near-uniform belief that had any other Republican been nominated, the party’s prospects in November would be nil…

The case they make for a comfortable McCain win is not beyond reason. Begin with the 2004 electoral map. Add Iowa and Colorado to Obama’s side, since both are considered states Obama could pick off. Then count McCain victories in New Hampshire and Michigan, two states where McCain is competitive. In this scenario, McCain wins the Electoral College 291-246, a larger margin than Bush four years ago.

If Obama managed only to win Iowa from Republicans and McCain managed only to win Pennsylvania, McCain would still win by a much greater margin than Bush — 300-237…

Even the potentially dramatic rise in turnout of African-Americans may only gain Obama 1 percentage point in many swing states, according to Maslin. Yet Obama’s weaknesses may end up neutralizing some of those relatively modest gains.

All right, here’s a substantive reason for why Obama will win: organization. This is Karl’s hobbyhorse, that the media overlooks the effect of nuts and bolts GOTV efforts for sexier angles about race and gender. The most surprising thing to me about the campaign thus far is how Team Barry has been able to compete with the Clinton machine, which probably could have and would have won (its many mistakes notwithstanding) against almost any other novice politician. If he’s savvy enough to outmaneuver an operation staffed by associates of a two-term president, I’m guessing he’s savvy enough to beat a guy whose own operations aren’t up to normal GOP standards and whose party advantage in voter targeting ain’t what it used to be.

Just in case McCain does win, though, the post-election narrative is already being set. Exit question: Anyone surprised to find Newsweek, a magazine that reduced 40 years of Republican victories to “successfully scaring voters,” wielding something called a “Racial Resentment Index”?

Update: Right on point, yet somehow I missed it. I’m slipping.

Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans said.

In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and whether the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain’s inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: presenting himself as a reformer taking on special interests in Washington…

Some state party leaders said they were apprehensive about the unusual organization Mr. McCain had set up: the campaign has been broken into 10 semi-autonomous regions, with each having power over things like television advertising and the candidate’s schedule, decisions normally left to headquarters.

More than that, they said, Mr. McCain organizationally still seems far behind where President Bush was in 2004. Several Republican Party leaders said they were worried the campaign was losing an opportunity as they waited for approval to open offices and set up telephone banks.