Donde Esta McCain?

Candidates love to tell crowds that they know they’ll win a state by the energy in the room. Of course there’s energy in the room, genius—these are the die-hard fans. It’s the people who didn’t show up that matter.

But at McCain’s midnight rally in Miami last night, he could be forgiven for being optimistic. Before McCain entered, a band and dance group had been performing the only salsa song I’ve ever heard about John McCain. “Dónde esta McCain?” the singer asked over and over. “En nuestra corazón.” (This was 10 times better than that “Drill Here, Drill Now” song .) When McCain finally came onstage, the response was Obama-esque. I had to remind myself this was the same guy who had attracted maybe a thousand to a Wallingford, Pa., rally earlier that day.

McCain gave his usual speech, but with a local twist. Instead of Joe the Plumber, he joked about “Pépé el Plomero.” (“That’s the last time I try that one,” he said right after.) At one point he asked how many Venezuelan-Americans were in the room. Some cheering. Puerto Rican-Americans? More cheering. Cuban-Americans? The room vibrated for a full minute.

There’s evidence that Republicans’ grasp on Hispanics in Florida—particularly Cuban-Americans—is slipping. But among those still in McCain’s camp, the enthusiasm is overwhelming. Compared to the bursting energy in that room, polls seem momentarily irrelevant. You can see why the candidate remains hopeful.