McCain insiders say several important big states should be in play, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, partly because of McCain's special appeal to independents.
McCain strategists also argue that the Arizona senator can battle effectively for Hispanic votes in a number of states, since he has opposed draconian measures to deal with illegal workers and he has advocated a "path to citizenship" for such workers--two popular positions among Latinos.
This could help McCain contest several states that usually go Democratic, including California, and may blunt Democratic surges in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. These analyses have convinced McCain insiders that he has more of a chance to win than his Democratic critics believe.
By Kenneth T. Walsh