Monday, November 03, 2008

Hold On Tight, McCain Could Just Win

Hold onto your seats. This could be a roller coaster of a ride. The fat lady hasn't even cleared her throat ready to sing, yet the media and opinion polls have all called it for Obama. But they don't count for zit. The media isn't electing a president nor are the opinion polls, American voters are. And the race is tightening by the day.  

Take away the media bias and opinion polls and the odds suddenly start to stack more in McCain's favour. 

Opinion polls, even the RCP average, are a snapshot of opinion of a very small sample. They are not voter intentions set in stone. 

There are just too many balls up in the air. Race, religion, the Bradley factor, the Florida factor, Obama's lack of experience and background. How can a snapsho opinion poll mean anything? If you want a prediction, a horoscope is far more entertaining.

Even taking opinion polls on face value, Obama needs a consistent double digit lead throughout the RCP average in order to win. The predicted landslide doesn't stack up.

Today, the Republican favoured and in the past accurate IBD/TIPP daily tracking poll shows McCain on 44.6%, Obama 46.7% with 8.7% undecided. Independents are shifting from Obama to McCain, who's making inroads in the midwest.

Obama hasn't shifted much in the polls since the summer. McCain's numbers have gone up and down like a yo-yo. 

And then there's Hillary, with her huge PUMA support base. A large number of Hillary's gals and guys may tactically vote McCain. Clinton's shot at the presidency in 2012 needs a McCain win. These Democrats, who have never forgiven Obama, are strung across the States and statistically their votes could swing it.

There's a huge mass of undecided voters too. They will decide only on the day they actually vote. 

They have been targeted by the hornet's nest of Obama's background and associations, summed up today by Stanley Kurtz of NRO

No matter who or what you believe, mud sticks. And there's an awful lot of mud flying around. All part of the McCain strategy to drip-feed Obama's experience, background and credibility to sway those undecided.

Former Sunday Times editor, Harold Evans, delivered a damning indictment of the blatant media bias towards Obama. American folk are no fools either. The media may think and hope they have the result in the bag. They are not the same as the regular American voter. 

Then there are the battleground States, where the election is actually decided. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. All in Obama's bag. Now all tightening. 

Even tracking polls are putting McCain and Obama tied among independent voters. A week ago, Obama was leading.

Much has been said of the youth vote who have turned out in their thousands as Obama cheerleaders. In Florida, where 3.4 million people have already voted, only 15 per cent of them were under age 35.

The media has rightly focussed on the huge and highly successful Obama effort to actually get voters to turn out to vote. But they have ignored the almost legendary Republican effort. 

While it would be naïve to discount race, this is much more a cause for the media than voters. Regular Americans don't give a stuff about the race of their president. It is only a serious issue among a few voters in a very few States.

Many naively compare the US election to a UK general election. They are two quite different beasts. 

In the US, voters vote for a president-elect. There could easily be a Al Gore moment. Even if Obama 'wins' the popular vote, he could still lose the state by state electoral vote, the magic 270, and with it the presidency. The president isn't sworn into office until January. That's a long time in politics. And that's why Hillary is playing it cool. 

Voters vote for a president and vice-president on the same ticket. The VP's sole job is to be on standby and fill a dead man's shoes. 

Voters have to decide, whoever is president, do they want Biden or Palin as president-in-waiting. And that makes for a whole different ball game.

Each US voter jealously guards their citizenship and is intensely patriotic. Voting for McCain or Obama boils down to a straight choice. Who will make the strongest commander-in chief and who will have the most trusty hand on the economic tiller. 

And that could boil down to an equally straight choice between an experienced politician, not tarred with the Bush brush, over a smooth talking guy with hopes and dreams and a slick Chicago marketing machine behind him.

The media has completely underestimated McCain and got totally carried away with Obama. That maybe their downfall. But then journalists, like opinion polls can always get it wrong.

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