Tuesday, November 04, 2008

America's moment of truth.

They are said to be expecting the largest turnout in US history as the US decides between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Large turnouts traditionally don't favour Republicans which is why I, and every pundit that I read, seems quietly confident that Barack Obama is about to be named the next President of the United States.

With all the main polls putting Obama well ahead, political analysts from right and left said they expected him to easily reach the 270 of 538 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, and many predicted a landslide, with him taking 350 or more electoral seats.

The Washington-based Pew organisation, one of the most respected pollsters which accurately predicted the vote in 2004, yesterday put Obama on 52% and McCain on 46%. RealClearPolitics, a website that averages out the main polls, put Obama on 51% to McCain's 44%. If the polls are borne out today, he would become the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to win 50% or more of the popular vote.

The excitement generated by Obama's candidacy is expected to see between 130 million and 140 million Americans vote, easily eclipsing the 121 million who turned out in 2004.

538.Com today give McCain a 1.9% chance of achieving victory. That means they think there is a 98.1% likelihood that Barack Obama will be the next president.

There were days, shortly after Palin was named as VP, when 538.com were saying that, if the election were held that day, that McCain would narrowly take the White House.

Then the financial markets went into turmoil, Obama and McCain took part in debates and Sarah Palin revealed herself to be perhaps not the best choice anyone has ever made for the position of VP.

It became a perfect storm and it's one from which McCain has never recovered. From mid-September onwards there has not been a single opinion poll which has said that John McCain is in the lead, and there have been over 250 of them since that time.

Obama was unable to avoid providing occasional glimpses throughout the day that he expected to become the 44th president. In a courteous gesture he might not have made if the race was closer, Obama said he wanted to "congratulate McCain on the great race that he has fought".

Exuding confidence, he told a rally the previous night: "The last couple of days, I've been just feeling good."

Like every progressive who visits here I know well the nerves which accompany such elections. The feeling that the Republicans have some dastardly plan to steal it from us at the last minute.

If they could, they would, but the figures this time simply don't provide any wriggle room for manipulation.

Go to 270towin.com and simply assume that Obama has the states which Kerry took and add in states which pollster.com say strongly lean towards Obama and you'll see that he easily crosses the line. Even if you only look at the states which Obama undoubtedly will win you'll see that he stands with 264 electoral votes and McCain with merely 129. Obama needs to pick up just six electoral votes to cross the line. Add to that the fact that all the polls say that Obama is way ahead and you'll understand why this year I am not in a sweat.

Of course, we can expect to see the usual Republican dirty tricks on display:

Democratic officials complain that in some states Republican election officers are not opening enough booths in areas that are predominantly African-American in the hope that some voters, put off by queues, will go home without voting.

But, like all the rest of their dirty tricks this year - the negative campaigning, the attempt to make big elections about little things - this year it simply won't wash.

Barack Obama is the most exciting candidate I have seen in decades and his time has come. The Republicans are about to be swept away.

We are watching history being made. Don't worry about it, just savour the moment.

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