Last Thoughts on a Long Election
Voting begins in less than 36 hours. So much has been written about this campaign that it’s pointless to try to rehash it all. In the last few months we have seen the rise of perhaps the greatest politician in a generation and the decline and eventual implosion of one of the only heroes t come out of Vietnam. All of the national polls show Barack Obama ahead, some by a wide margin. CBS/NYT has Obama up 13 nationally. With due respect to the newspaper of record and the rest of the pollsters and pundits, I think these numbers are soft.
Far be it from me to want to jinx the ascension of a man that I truly believe is exactly the leader this country needs. You may say that I have drunk the kool-aid or that I am another Obamanaught blinded by my reverence for “The One.” Maybe it’s true. Regardless, something special is happening in this country and it’s not just me.
Despite the relatively close polling, voter registration is up dramatically. The vast majority of these new voters are Democrats or voting Democratic. The Obama Get Out The Vote campaign has more than a million volunteers and offices nearly anywhere there is a chance he could win. In the past it would have been a waste of money for serious efforts in Montana, North Dakota, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, even Louisiana and Arkansas. This year all those states and maybe more are on the table.
As I have in the past, I turn to the West Wing for the words I need. Discussing a third party candidate, a character responds to notion of polling likely voters with “When a third party candidate gets elected, it’s going to be by unlikely voters.” I think that this could not be truer about Barack Obama.
While he may carry the Democratic brand around his neck, this country needs more than party affiliation right now. John McCain and Sarah Palin, who both do have “maverick” credentials, have run their campaign to the right, energizing the base of the Republican Party (thanks to Palin) and alienating the moderates and Independents that were drawn to McCain in the first place. The irony is that John McCain is perhaps the only Republican who could have saved his party and he has thrown that away along with his legacy to score cheap and ineffective political points.
Without any more hesitation, I will make my predictions of Tuesday night. First, I think Obama’s margin of victory in the Electoral College will be a lot bigger than any of the polls suggest. I don’t think 420 electoral votes are out of the question, which would mean a sweep of all the swing states and the addition of several red states, notably Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Arkansas. I expect that instead of five or six point gap in the national polls it could very well be in the mid teens. I would be elated but not surprised if Obama won nearly 60% of the popular vote.
Of course I could be wrong about all of this. If I am, look for a followup late on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, most likely written from a bunker where I am hiding out from the riots. If I’m not then don’t expect anything from me until sometime on Thursday, most likely written with a terrible hangover and hopes that President-elect Obama will be the man that we need him to be.