Today’s Washington Post points out rather starkly the negative impact that McCain’s diminishing electoral chances are having further down the ticket:
When McCain clinched the nomination earlier this year, GOP leaders in Congress hailed him as the best possible standard-bearer because he had crafted an image independent of Bush. Leaders urged incumbents and challengers alike to lash themselves to McCain’s brand.
Instead, the dynamics of the presidential race have created opportunities for Democrats that even they were not anticipating, particularly after the financial meltdown began in mid-September.
In Georgia, where Bush won by 17 points in 2004, Obama has cut McCain’s lead roughly in half since Labor Day. At the same time, former state representative Jim Martin (D) has closed in on Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).
In New York’s 26th District, internal GOP polls show McCain trailing Obama by a narrow margin, sources said. Bush won the Buffalo-based district by 12 percentage points in 2004. The race to replace retiring Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) is considered a tossup.
In Virginia’s 2nd District around Virginia Beach, Bush won in 2004 by 16 points, more than in 2000. In recent private GOP polling, McCain is ahead of Obama by two percentage points, and Rep. Thelma Drake (R) has gone from being favored to fighting for her seat.
It’s in marginal districts like this that the seeds of disaster may sprout on Election Day.