Let's be clear -- McCain needs to WIN tonight (and Palin does on [edited] Thursday

So let’s start with the facts:

1) The polls are drifting toward Obama. I hear the complaints about the make up of the polls, but it doesn’t matter who you look at, they are trending Dem.

Rasmussen has Obama at +5 and that should sober you up (or in my case make me consider taking up alcohol).

2) The financial crisis coupled with the gas crisis in the Southeast (I’m in atlanta so this is really on my mind) has a lot of people leaning towards “Something needs to change” and that will invariably lead them to Obama.

So where does it leave McCain:

1) First of all, McCain could NOT skip the debate. It would have just looked awful. If, later today, he skips the debate anyway, it will be awful.

2) Secondly, McCain has to win this debate.

Let me describe “win” for you.

a) He can’t lose it based on Al Gore “huhs,” George Bush watch checking, or any other thing. If he does, then he drops another 3 or 4 points in the polls because people are leaning away from him.

b) (and I’m stealing some of this from Jay Cost) He needs to explain and not just give sound bites. Ads are for sound bites. So if it’s a question on “energy security,” he needs to be able to say that the Republicans have now opened up offshore oil drilling and that the Dems want to close it up, but he also has to say that we can get oil from some of these wells just as soon as the states give the okay.

c) He needs to have something to say other than “I was right about the surge.”

d) He has to have a “shut up line” to hit Obama with when Obama says that the surge exceeded everyone’s expectations even McCains … something like “Well it clearly exceeded your expectations since you said in the Senate on four occassions that it would fail.”

3) Palin has to recover in the debate and do well

In truth, I’m not sure how much of this shift to Obama is being caused by Palin’s poor interviews. I suspect its not very much just because I don’t think that many people are watching.

They WILL be watching [edited] Thursday night and she has to look GOOD not just OKAY any more.