Saturday, November 1, 2008

T-Minus Two Days

I haven't check in recently because, frankly, the end of the longest presidential election campaign ever seems to be drawing to an anti-climactic finish. Unless the pollsters have been completely dead wrong, and as long as people actually show up to vote, Barack Obama should be elected the 44th President of the United States Tuesday night. There's very little in the way of plausible scenarios for John McCain to count on. It's gotten bad enough for McCain that places like Arizona (which happens to be his home state) and Georgia are no longer safe Republican bets.

In short, McCain needs a major Obama catastrophe or an outright miracle to beat Obama in the electoral college. Since no reputable poll has had McCain ahead nationally since the 3rd week of September (and even that was from Republican-biased Zogby), there's no chance Obama loses the popular vote to McCain Tuesday. Repeat: no chance. So a narrow electoral college win or tie (that possiblity is mentioned by Nate Silver on today's polling thread over at The 538) is the only way McCain will be elected barring a game-changer between now and then. I outlined in my last post McCain's painful truths about an electoral college win. Basically, he needs to make up tremendous ground in Pennsylvania, win it, and then win EVERY swing state. No wonder Silver gives him 3.8% chance of winning the election.

Now we already have excellent Washington reporters like Mike Allen postulating the makeup of an Obama Cabinet. I'm not ready to go down that road yet, but I will certainly have a post within a few weeks of my potential Obama Dream Team. I will say this: I would love to see Rahm Emanuel in the post of Chief of Staff (for those "West Wing" buffs out there, Aaron Sorkin based Josh Lyman on a young Emanuel. That gives you some idea of the type of brilliant political mind Emanuel is). But I am preparing myself for the eventuality of an Obama win, and the unbelievable truth that this campaign is coming to an end.

I've been paying close attention to the goings-on of this campaign for the last 14 months. I've witnessed every twist and turn, heard every fact and spin, and experienced the full range of emotions all along, from tremendous joy (right after Obama won the Iowa caucus) to the depths of sadness (the death of Tim Russert). There's part of me that will be glad when it's all over, but the void left by the incredible horse race will be difficult to replace.

We have seen perhaps the greatest individual presidential campaign in history with Barack Obama's unreal rise to a potential electoral blowout Tuesday. When he sewed up the nomination, I remarked that Obama needed to run a perfect campaign to beat Hillary, and he did just that. Well, considering all the mistakes made by John McCain and his campaign of schizophrenia, Obama didn't need to run perfectly to win.

In my opinion, the election hinged on the reactions of the two candidates to the onset of the economic meltdown. In the key moment of the campaign, at the time of our nation's biggest crisis of any type since Hurricane Katrina, Obama appeared cool, composed, and presidential. McCain, on the other hand, appeared frazzled, erratic, and, quite frankly, old. That was where Obama won this thing and McCain lost it.

Anyway, I am still attempting to sort out my feelings about what has happened and what is about to happen. I will try to write something in this space later today (Sunday), Monday, and I'm still trying to figure out what I'll do here for Tuesday. I could do a running diary sort of thing, but I'm not sure I want to spend time away from watching the returns writing. I'll figure it out.

If you haven't voted yet, make sure you figure out some way to do it before or on Tuesday. It's important. I hope that you've learned at least that much from me. Later.

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