That McCain has been outpolling the “generic Republican” and beating expectations in general for practically the entire cycle, so it’s not exactly news that McCain has, well, that going for him. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s also never really outpolled the “actual Democrat,” which may be why his spinners don’t usually emphasize the fact that while McCain is losing, he’s not losing that badly. They have, in the past, asked rhetorically why Obama isn’t “doing better,” but last night is the first time in my memory that McCain’s lead surrogates made the proactive argument that the candidate may win because he could be doing MUCH WORSE.
Steve Schmidt: “It’s a very tough time to have an ‘R’ next to your name, I’m not gonna lie to you.”
Nicolle Wallace: “For a Republican to go head-to-head with a Democrat on the economy, and come out ahead of most of them… that’s extraordinary.”
“Most,” by the way, includes “mostly” the issue of taxes, which the McCain team said was McCain’s true home run last night, though the idea that a Republican can talk scary about Dems and taxes — like many things about the debate — seems to be a triumph of the status quo.