It's a measure of how obsessed I am with this election that I took the day off work to walk it down to the gate. Casual & new observers of this blog will not really have any clue as to my addiction for the last year, but those who know me and those who read the other blog will understand. I wish I could have posted more and generally been more publicly engaged but with what effectively added up to five plays this year (on top of a day job), time was short.
So...it's nearly done. As I write, the polls are about three hours away from closing on the east coast. The latest polls (I use Real Clear Politics exclusively because they take combined averages), which now carry less import than ever, show Obama up by 7.6%, 52.1% to McCain's 44.5%. In terms of electoral votes, RCP has Obama up by 128, with no toss up states.
Polling data's been the trickiest thing to analyze this election. Not just because I'm a bloody actor and hopeless with numbers, but because there are so many factors allegedly playing outside of the numbers. Between the Bradley Effect, the Reverse Bradley Effect, the neo-con shy conservative backlash (basically old-fashioned conservatives for Obama because they are sick of neo-conservatism) and the cellphone only vote (pollsters only use landlines for data collection; some feel this skews data in McCain's favour).
While all of these factors have been dissected, picked over and analyzed by pundits and eejits like me, it's all pure speculation. There's no way of knowing whether, say, the Bradley Effect will play out today. You can't poll for it ("Sir, just one last question...are you lying to me because you really hate black people and will vote whitey on Tuesday?") so we'll just have to wait and see.
So...up the top there's an electoral map of the US, with no reds or blues or fancy bits.
If McCain does better than expected in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, we've got a race on our hands. However, if these states break early in Obama's favour, it's going to be a mammoth task for McCain. My personal feeling is that if any of the south east states go Obama's way, it's goodbye GOP.
Say McCain does well in the east/south east. Your key states are then Missouri, Indiana and the historical bellwether, Ohio. I fully expect McCain to take Indiana and have mild confidence Obama will squeak past in Ohio, but it's Missouri that's key. It's been on a knife-edge for months, never showing either candidate with more than a two-point lead, even for a day. If McCain is travelling well by the time the numbers start showing in the midwest...just about every poll has been wrong.
Most pollsters, pundits, commentators and analysts will say that Obama will win, comfortably. They also predict that the Dems will increase their stakes in Congress. But there are quite a few who are playing up McCain's chances. Sure, most of them might be Dick Morris and some may be saying this to get dejected McCain people off the couch and into the booth, but there's no denying that until we start getting hard numbers, McCain has a shot.
Finally, it's worth noting the little piece of trivia around the Washington Redskins predicting the outcome of the election.
The legend goes something like this: for 15 elections, the Redskins have accurately predicted the winner of the race for the White House. If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent wins the election. If they lose, the incumbent loses.
Yesterday the Redskins played the Pittsburgh Pirates and were defeated, 23-6. According to the legend, that means Barack Obama will take the White House.
Of course, as with all superstition...it's fundamentally flawed.
Firstly, the pattern was broken in 2004 when Green Bay beat Washington 28-14, meaning John Kerry would win the Presidency...we all know how that transpired.
Secondly, there is and can be no correlation (other than purely coincidental) between a football game and the votes of millions of people. When I pointed this out elsewhere online, I was rounded on. I asked for a bit of science to back up the correlation, but of course, received none. I'd like to see some science to prove the link though. That way, America could save millions and millions of dollars by doing away with the election process altogether and merely determining the nation's leader by holding a game of football.