“The race will tighten,” saith The One, and so it hath. McCain’s netted three points since CNN’s last poll two weeks ago and two points since Hotline’s tracker yesterday to trail by five in each. That’s squarely in line with most of the national polls RCP’s following, so there’s our task with two weeks to go. Five points in 15 days. Let’s hope Ace is right about an October surprise to jumpstart it and that ABC’s wrong about voters not caring about Ayers.

We’re close enough to E-Day that we should start paying attention to the map, too. Not only does Maverick need to win all eight toss-up states (he trails in four), he has to peel 18 electoral votes away from the four states currently leaning blue. Virginia and Colorado would do it and each is within about six points, so they’re the ones to watch. Minnesota and New Mexico look like lost causes.

Exit question via Geraghty, responding to the ABC poll: What exactly is McCain doing for the ticket? The states that are currently red go red in every election and are likely to stay that way this time only because the base loves Palin, not because they love McCain. The battle plan in picking her, or so I thought, was to have her lock in and turn out the grassroots on election day while he went off and worked some mavericky RINO charm on swing voters in the middle. She’s done that. Even if she’s a drag on the ticket with independents (51/39 say picking her makes them less confident in his judgment), I can’t believe she’s so heavy a drag as to nullify his 25-year record of bipartisanship among centrists. He’s simply not making the sale.