On the other side of the aisle, even the expectations game appears almost moot. Since his wide defeat in last week's Washington State beauty contest, Bradley has stumped all week long in New York, finally garnering some headlines. For his pains, Bradley shaved 10 points off Gore's lead in the state over the weekend, but still trails by a 30 percent margin in the Zogby daily tracking poll. That's a gap that even Bradley's pal Michael Jordan would be unable to jump, and, in that light, MSNBC reported Monday that aides said the ex-senator was already planning his concession speech. At this point, it seems all he can hope for is to deliver it with better news than anyone expected.
We've heard the poll numbers all week giving comfortable wins this "Titanic Tuesday" to George W. Bush and Al Gore. Now it comes down to how their opponents, John McCain and Bill Bradley, respectively, compete against the expectations that have been set for each of them. On the Republican side, McCain needs both to win New York and to gain an overwhelming number of votes in California's so-called "beauty contest," where any registered voter can take part in a non-binding contest (Bush is widely expected to sew up the Golden State's 162 delegates in the Republican-only part of the vote). McCain's hope is that come March 14, when the campaign swings into several southern states, including Florida and Texas both governed by men named Bush the GOP faithful could think twice if it appears their guy has no chance of taking the White House. McCain's prospects appeared improved Monday when a tracking poll in New York, which after California has the second most delegates of any state to vote Tuesday, showed the Arizona senator closing the gap to 4 percentage points over the weekend.