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ABC News
Does McCain Have Cooties?

This is pretty interesting:

[Norm] Coleman told reporters that he would not be appearing at a planned rally with McCain this afternoon. Could it be McCain’s sliding polling numbers in Minnesota? His attacks on Obama? Coleman said he needs the time to wo
rk on suspending his own negative ads.

“Today,” he said, “people need hope and a more positive campaign is a start.”

There are at least three groups of Republicans that might have an interest in distancing themselves from John McCain. Firstly, purple-state moderates like Coleman and Gordon Smith who don’t like the campaign’s tone. Secondly, the anti-bailout economic populists in the House who might be looking ahead to 2010 and 2012. And thirdly, true conservatives who never trusted McCain that much to begin with.

Far more so than Obama, McCain is dependent on the goodwill of fellow Republicans. With McCain having opted for public financing, RNC funds are an important part of his advertising budget. Because he’s way behind Obama on McCain-branded field offices and ground operatives, he is depending on assistance from state and local party organizations. Republican enthusiasm lags behind that of Democrats, and so volunteer resources are scarcer; conservative activists will need to decide if they’re going to make phone calls to support McCain or to help save their local Republican Congressman.

The further that McCain falls in the polls, the worse these conflicts become. And it won’t help when the campaign is putting out statements like this one (McCain “blew up” the bailout?) and this one (it’s Obama’s fault that some very small minority of McCain supporters have taken to making violent statements?), which won’t pass the media’s smell test and reek of stress, sleep deprivation, and low morale in Crystal City.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.