Politico: Pennsylvania is closer than you think

It’s a longshot, but any shot is a shot worth taking now. Reassuring burst of sunlight through the clouds? Or heartbreaking psy op by the demon media aimed at lifting conservatives’ spirits, the better to crush them later? You make the call!

Nearly everyone in a position to know thinks the race for Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes is considerably tighter than what recent polls reveal.

“There’s a tendency in Pennsylvania for the polls to change dramatically in the final days,” says John Brabender, a top Republican political consultant based in Pittsburgh. “In the governor’s race in 2002, there were polls just a few days out showing [Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell] with a 25-point lead and he ended up losing 50 of 67 counties and won by nine points.”…

The McCain campaign’s formula for winning the state begins with the notion that, despite voter registration gains and strong support for Obama in Philadelphia, it would be difficult to wring more votes out of the state’s largest city than the Kerry campaign did.

They even believe they can carry a few of the heavily Democratic city’s 66 wards, a feat George W. Bush was unable to accomplish in 2004.

“We’re not convinced they can blow it out again,” said a McCain campaign source.

And in the four populous and historically Republican collar counties surrounding Philadelphia, the campaign believes McCain is a far better fit for the socially moderate suburbs than President Bush.

Normally I’d chalk up Rendell’s “nervousness” to GOTV bluster, but actually calling upon The One to come back to the state and stump seems like a long way to go for that. Expect Hillary to be dispatched forthwith. Exit question: Does McCain have any Clinton-caliber surrogates out on the trail aside from Palin? I look at battleground polls like this and wonder who’s available to rally the troops in North Carolina and Virginia while he and the ‘Cuda are in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but I’m drawing a blank. Newt? Rudy? Zombie Reagan? Bueller?