I am a terrible pessimist and even I can see that Obama is very, very, very close to winning the Whitehouse on November 4th. But, to read most left leaning blogs, or listen to pundits on cable news, you'd think this race was over and November 4th was merely a formality. It's not. Obama leads by an average of 6 points, with a few polls like Battleground and TIPP having him ahead by only 3. We've been here before, with Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and I'm very concerned we're heading for a similar end result this election day with John McCain.
The truth is, yes, Obama has all but wrapped up victory. Just as, during the primaries in Texas and Ohio he'd essentially already won the Democratic nomination.
The reason he has wrapped up victory is simple: Pennsylvania and Virgina. Currently Pollster.com puts Obama up by almost 13 points in Pennsylvania, and by almost 9 points in Virginia. These results constitute insurmountable leads in the last week of a Presidential campaign. Combined with the fact that in the Virginia Senatorial race Democrat, Mark Warner, is running 30 points ahead of his Republican rival, I just don't see how John McCain can overcome his deficit in the state.
With Obama set to hold onto all the states that Kerry won in 2004, with the possible exception of New Hampshire, he is also set to win Iowa and New Mexico (where he has led throughout this election season). If Obama wins Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virgina, and New Mexico then there is no realistic route via which McCain can get to 270 in the electoral college and Obama is President.
McCain's team would do well to spend the rest of this week in Virginia because make no mistake, it is the only state that truly constitutes a bellwether battleground this election. It is the be all and end all of victory for McCain.
So why I am fretting? Simple. If Obama wins the election by barely a percentage point in the popular vote, and narrowly loses Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, and Indiana then, just as Hillary's comeback ultimately served as a rebuke, so will McCain's performance exceeding expectations. Obama will be President and everyone will celebrate, but change, even after George Bush's disastrous eight years in office, will be a struggle when his Administration begins in 2009, as George Bush quickly found out in 2005 following his narrow victory against Kerry.
If Obama simply stumbles across the finish line late in the morning, waiting for results back from New Mexico, the symbolism of this victory will be mitigated and the right wing attack machine will be energized. They will know that, even in these circumstances, with everything working against them, their ideas discredited, and their Presidential campaign run poorly, the Democratic candidate, wholeheartedly loved by his base, could only muster a closely fought victory. They will rightly see 2010 and 2012 as an opportunity to emphatically set the record straight.
The opportunity of this election is to not only win, but to earn a decisive mandate for governance, and to leave the Republican party fractured and in tatters, fighting amongst each other for the right to control their party's identity. If Obama can win by at least 5 percentage points in the popular vote, and win Ohio, Florida, and a host of other states, the message of change will be an earthquake that permanently transforms the political landscape in this country. By contrast, the far right, the religious right, the fiscal conservatives, and the moderate Republicans will be at war for the next two years trying to wrestle control over their own party. If this kind of margin fails to materialize, Obama could be on the back foot from day one.