Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama upbeat as campaign enters final hours.

As we enter the final hours a buoyant Obama camp are predicting that they will break the traditional pattern of US politics to take long-established Republican states.

The McCain camp are making claims that this is way too close to call and that, according to Rick Davis, "What we are in for is a slam bang finish."

I don't believe that for a second and I don't believe Rick Davis believes that either.

Every person who has traditionally supported the Democrats knows only too well how it feels to have one's hopes cruelly dashed. We remember well the debacle of 2000 and the heartbreaking feeling in 2004 when, against all the odds, Bush retained the White House. But, on both of those occasions, the polls had warned that the result would go to the wire.

That is not the case this time. And some Democrats are being brave enough to voice it.

The Democratic senator Chuck Schumer told CBS television: "Wednesday morning Dems are going to be very happy."

David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, was also optimistic, telling CBS he was cheered by the surge in early voting which favoured Democrats. "The edge is pretty substantial in our favour," Axelrod said.

In Colorado, a once-Republican state where Obama now leads, some 46% of the electorate have turned out for early voting. North Carolina, an even more strongly Republican state, is also showing heavy early voting in favour of the Democrat.

"We feel good," Axelrod said. "It is not just the polls. It is the early voting ... These figures are are coming in strong for us, reversing the traditional patterns."

The Obama campaign manager, David Plouffe, said it had deployed a record number of volunteers over the weekend to knock on doors trying to get supporters to the polls on Tuesday.

Fred Thompson has been trying to rally the Republican base by saying, "John's a closer. He always has been." But I'm not sure even he really believes this. The polls are simply too strongly in favour of Obama for anyone to think that he is not going to take this thing decisively.

However, last minute polls provided little evidence to support Davis's claim that the race was tightening. McCain has been behind Obama in all of the more than 250 polls conducted since late September.

Karl Rove, who masterminded Bush's campaign in 2000 and 2004, was less optimistic than the McCain team's public pronouncements. McCain has "a very steep hill to climb", Rove told Fox.

The most recent poll, conducted yesterday by NBC/WSJ gives Obama a 51-43 lead over McCain:
Of all the polls out late tonight -- and I do hope to have some sort of midnight update to the polling thread -- the one that ought to give Democrats the most reassurance is the new poll out from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, which gives Barack Obama a 51-43 lead.

What's to like about this particular survey?
Firstly, all of the interviewing was conducted today (Sunday) and yesterday, so it's about the freshest set of data that we have. Secondly -- and this is an underrated factor -- the NBC/WSJ poll always behaves intuitively. It goes up when the other polls go up, and goes down when the other polls go down.
McCain will finish the campaign defending states which have traditionally voted Republican, which tells me that he's worried he might lose on his own turf.

Obama, meanwhile, held a rally on Saturday in Springfield, Missouri, one of the mostly staunchly conservative corners of a state won comfortably by George Bush in 2004.

He was campaigning in Ohio today, with appearances in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. After stops tomorrow in Florida and North Carolina, he plans to end his campaign with a huge rally in northern Virginia, a traditionally Republican state that is one of his top targets on Tuesday.

We can't afford to take anything for granted, but all the signs are that change is coming to the US.

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