Never mind polls, McCain says he’s still the underdog

September 16, 2008

mccain16.jpgMIAMI – The polls may show him advancing past Democrat Barack Obama, but Republican John McCain is still holding on to one of his favorite titles: underdog.

The Arizona senator told a Republican fundraising event that raised some $5.1 million on Monday that he and running mate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, were still coming from behind in the race toward the Nov. 4 presidential election.

“We’ve got a strong headwind and we’ve got a lot to do,” he said to a group of donors. “No matter what you see in the polls recently, Governor Palin and I are the underdogs. We’re the underdogs. That’s where we like to be.”

McCain seems to perform the best when he’s not in the lead.

The 72-year-old former fighter pilot turned his campaign around from near death more than a year ago and formally accepted his party’s nomination earlier this month.

McCain is not permitted to raise money directly for his campaign since accepting public financing, but he still participates in party fundraisers. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Robert LeSieur (McCain speaks in New Hampshire Sunday)

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.  


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

He is right, Obama will win by a landslide.These polls leave out the biggest Obama consituency, the youth vote who exclusively use cell phones and whose phone numbers are not available to pollsters.They also do not account for unlikely voters who will be voting in big numbers this election cycle and it does not account for all the newly registered voters Obama is continually adding to his side.There is also no comparison when it comes to his ground game which too many commentators underestimate.His organization gets out the vote better than any candidate I have ever seen.

Posted by joseph marcucilli | Report as abusive

Well, that’s typical of McCain, isn’t it?

Never mind the truth…

Posted by Lou | Report as abusive

Yes, we are thirsty for CHANGE of OBAMA. Yes, with Obama, we can win for real change.

Posted by Kiziton | Report as abusive

Well, you can’t be forever an underdog when you’re running for presidency..
“McCain seems to perform the best when he’s not in the lead.” We don’t want a president with underdog mentality..

that’s what i think..

Posted by Hansen | Report as abusive

Obama will lose his election… Will be big than people perdicted. The solem CHANGE he has that just a empty promise with no plan.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

Wasn’t John McCain an “attack pilot”? He was not a fighter pilot; he just dropped bombs.
The big deal to me is that he & Palin outright lie. You can do a lot of things to me, but you don’t lie to me too many times. That makes you a liar and I can’t believe anything you say.

Posted by Jo | Report as abusive

God willing McCain-Palin will win the race! I just cringe at the thought of Obama being elected. By all accounts senator Obamas white house would be even worse than Jimmy Carter’s botched presidency!! Thats change we can not afford.

Posted by C. David Hardy | Report as abusive

Pollsters take the youth vote and cell phones into account. Obama will NEVER win. And by this time in the cycle … the kids have figured it out …. Obama has NO record of achievement … NADA! Obama is WRONG on all the issues. Obama lacks judgement. Nobody wants a leader who has ties to Ayers and Rezko and voted only PRESENT each day at work. Obama is pitiful choice, which shows the Democrats really lowered this bar this election. Biden even thinks Hillary would have been a better VP choice than himself. With the 3 of them … your party has the 3 Stooges. Get used to it …. it’s over. McCain Won!

Posted by Kaye | Report as abusive


Posted by One Lost Republican | Report as abusive

I’m a Republican and there is zero chance I will be voting for McCain. How could any “real” Republican vote for this guy who has sold out to these religious extremist that have hijacked our party? Am I mistaken that the pillars of our party are fiscal responsibility (who’s not for that really?), and less government involvement in business. Since when does that mean more government involvement in my personal affairs. The McCain campaign has become so completely unrecognizable as anything I have always thought were definitive traits of the Republican party.

Posted by One Lost Republican | Report as abusive

Mr. Joseph Marcucilli raises a valid point. Those of us that use cell phones exclusively do not get polled. Those that text, chat or e-mail as their predominant form of communication also are not included in poll numbers. People with land lines that screen calls and/or are not home to let their answering machines pick up, are not polled.

So, how does the demographic that actually answers the phone and participates in polls compare with actual registered voters? If the pollsters are only able to reach retired individuals, stay-at-home parents, shut-ins and the articulate 10 year old, how accurate are these polls anyway? Of course, the polling companies don’t want you to know that as it will bring about a serious decline in their revenues. It make one wonder if the polling companies are actually made up of a couple of people sitting around with a Magic 8 Ball, a Ouija Board, dice and some old chicken bones.

Posted by Simon Jackson | Report as abusive

The key to the election is getting out the vote. Obama’s people are just wasting time in signing up new voters to vote for Obama, if they don’t keep tabs on them all and lead them to the polling places on Election Day. And even if they spend $200m doing that, they’re not home free. Because there may not be enough new voters available. I estimate Obama would need to lock up five million new voters to put him over, and these would need to be mainly in the swing states–NOT California, Illinois, New York or other states that McCain’s strategists have written off. It appears that most of the 1-2 million new Obama voters are signed up in states where they won’t add anything to the Electoral vote.

Posted by Margot Darby | Report as abusive

“Youth vote”? you make me laugh Joseph! You were the guys who were going to elect Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. Maybe you turned out for Clinton but even then the ‘youth’ were not going to make that mistake again in 2008! I think you should play on your cellphones, waiting for those polls you think ‘matter’ and leave politics to those who know better and who can spell.

Posted by Frank de Sales | Report as abusive

GOD HELP us if Obama takes over the White House. When Carter was president the Dems also controlled Congress and what a DISASTER that was. We need checks and balances. And don’t forget Clinton could have taken out Bin Laden, but he was a wimp (although the network that produced the movie that points this out has now decided not to air it again – fair and balanced – I think not). I just returned from McCain’s appearance in Tampa and he is clearly the only choice for future safety and prosperity of our nation. Please Obama supporters, do your research, Obama is a phony. Messiah – I think not!

Posted by ConcernedAmerican | Report as abusive

“These polls leave out the biggest Obama consituency, the youth vote who exclusively use cell phones”
________________________________________ _
The online polls are even less representative. There are a lot of computer-illiterate people, particularly seniors, who are not registered in blogs, online polls, etc. But they are much more likely to be registered to vote than smartphone-toting internet-savvy youths, and much more likely to actually vote in November. Needless to say, they’re McCain’s constituency.
The folks called in politically correct way “white working class” – or simply rednecks – are also underrepresented on the Web and in the polls, but usually go and actually vote. These folks could’ve gone Democratic if Clinton or Edwards were nominated, but much less likely to vote for Obama. It’s not only about race – these folks are wary of smooth-talking politicians using words longer than 3 syllables. They are much more comfortable with straight-talking McCain and gun-toting church-going Palin than with Ivy League educated eloquent Obama and boring Washington insider Biden.

Posted by Anonymous User | Report as abusive

I wish to remind Americans that they cannot afford to cut themselves out of the World trading Block especially at this time when there is an economic slump in this World super Power.
It is very clear that majority of the American allies,the G8 contries, the eastern Block and the Asian block and the african countries have clearly shown enthusiasm towards a proposed Barak Obama presidency.
in this regard if Americans were intelligent enough, then this is one of the greatest opportunities of a lifetime”(Mending the already George Bush screwed up economy.)” and mend the much needed International relations with these countries which have shown willingness should it be Barak Obama to be American President.
It would be suicidal at this point in time to Force John Mc Cain down the throats of the nations most of which would have offered America a good opportunity to trade with and have the economy of this great nation of the World restore is fast fading Glory.
Think more than twice Americans.Isolation from the rest of the World is self defeatist as America.The current global trends show that it is very competitive to remain at the Top and in this We as Americans should think outside the Box.
come on America lets think beyond the Bubba factor lets settle for Obama for the necessary prospects and restoration of the Glory George Bush almsot screwed up!!

Posted by JOE CHACHA | Report as abusive

Polls in general are volatile. September poll numbers mean little its just a indicator of momentum which mccain certianly has at the moment. Though I do hope American people aren’t stupid enough to put someone like Sarah Palin so close to the presidency, of one of the oldest presidential candidates in our countries history.

Posted by formal training in econ | Report as abusive

Obama’s “change” is a brand, not a promise. There is nothing in his career that would show that Obama is capable of bringing about “change.” His dismal experience factors in economics and international affairs mitigate against the claim that he is the supposed “man of the hour” that his henchmen want us to believe. He is, in fact, just an ordinary politician who uses hate and blame to stoke his flames.

Posted by TruthandConsequence | Report as abusive