In Florida, Obama is up by an average of five points – by no means an insurmountable lead, but if McCain loses Florida, he loses the election. Pollster Brad Coker says white seniors are McCain’s strongest group in Florida, aside from registered Republicans, as of Oct. 6. And he needs them to counteract the other demographics that are leaning toward Obama. Mr. Coker, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based president of Mason-Dixon Polling, agrees that McCain needs a clear, simple plan to offer voters that he can lay out concisely.
“He needs something comprehensive and coherent that he can explain in 15 or 20 seconds,” says Coker.
In Pennsylvania, another key state with a large population of seniors, Obama now enjoys a solid double-digit lead. And the fact that McCain is doubling down on winning the support of seniors is a sign that he’s waging a battle in his own backyard.
“There’s no doubt he needs this plan, and he needs to start appealing to voters that, if we elect him, he’ll do more than just say, ‘Trust me,’” says Mr. Madonna.
The theme of the last presidential debate, to be held Wednesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island, is the economy – an opportunity for both candidates to emphasize their plans. In the last debate, McCain slipped in a major new proposal without much fanfare: a $300 billion plan for the government to buy troubled mortgages from homeowners. He repeated that plan in his speech on Tuesday, and laid out some other proposals, including a plan to reduce capital gains taxes for 2009 and 2010 and a plan to suspend the tax on unemployment insurance benefits in 2008 and 2009.