Welcome to the latest edition of “If the election were held today”

Using the RealClearPolitics poll averages, I’m going to post an electoral map with the results as they could happen if votes were counted today.

Now obviously, this is all based on polling, which I’m sure to have several of you grumble about. But I think this could make for an interesting, occasional snapshot of which way the tide is flowing in the battleground states.

Using the RCP averages as of today to pick winners for the battleground states, here are the results:

Electoral Math Map 10.6.08

This map represents a disaster for the McCain campaign, as if the election were held today, Obama would sweep to the White House with the largest electoral college victory since 1996, with a 353-185 margin.

Where to begin for McCain?

His paths to win the election are starting to become fewer and fewer. First of all, the two states that were the linchpins to Dubby’s wins in 2000 and 2004, namely Florida and Ohio, are both tight, but the latest polls have trended Obama. McCain must win these states to even have a shot to win. If he loses either of these states, he’s done.

And now the bad news for McCain – Obama has leads in Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina. All three of these states went solidly for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and now McCain has to spend a lot of time, money and manpower to keep these states in his column. He cannot afford to lose these states either, or he has serious electoral math issues.

Now there are a couple of good bits of news for McCain.

First of all, Sarah Palin did well enough in the debate with Joe Biden to move herself from a hindrance to a help. I’m still not buying that she “won” the debate, but factor in the expectations factor, and she got more out of it than Biden did.

Second, John Kerry had a similar bounce in the polls about four or five weeks out in 2004, though not as pronounced nationally and not nearly as strong as Obama’s been doing in battleground and even some traditionally red states. Kerry’s bounce vanished leading into November, so there are some GOP strategists who are projected the same this cycle.

Third, McCain has two more debates to hammer on Obama, which gives him a chance to sway independents and blunt the current Obama surge.

The election is four weeks from tomorrow and McCain needs to start reversing some trends, or he faces some seriously long odds in the race for the Oval Office.