With 27 days until the election, there are only four things that would keep Barack Obama from winning this election:
1) Obama could have a major gaffe. This is a unlikely, but clearly not impossible. His performance at the debates last night was staid and calm, and he just doesn’t seem like the guy who shoots from the hip. By contrast, McCain’s interpretation of “maverick” seems increasingly unsteady and decreasingly wise.
2) A major and unexpected world event could refocus our attention away from domestic issues and squarely on the issue of terrorism or military affairs. It would have to be an awfully big event. Again, this is unlikely, but clearly not impossible. With a tip of the hat to the conspiracy theorists among you, I’m not even sure that government manipulation of the terror alert or a wag-the-dog scenario would be enough to distract us from the economy.
3) Perhaps there is something that McCain knows that the rest of us don’t that will be revealed in the days preceding the election. Compared to the other two, this might be the most likely – but the likelihood is low. McCain is desperate for ammunition – and if he’s down to his last political grenade, it would be more useful now than in four weeks.
4) The “Bubba Vote” is much, much larger than anticipated. The theory goes like this: a well meaning middle-age, middle-class white person is leaning mildly toward Obama prior to the election. He even tells a telephone pollster and a couple of friends that he’ll probably vote for Obama. Come election day, he pauses for just a couple of seconds and asks himself if he can *really* vote for a black man for President. Thinking that it’s better to err on the side of caution, he switches his vote at the last minute. Could this happen? Of course, and it will happen. But it is impossible to measure how frequently it will happen, so it is an unknowable variable. HOWEVER, let’s remember that there are three things that counterbalance the Bubba vote. First, the number of first time voters that have been signed up by the Obama campaign is brilliantly staggering. Even if only 10% of those new voters vote, it cancels out the Bubba vote. Second, Obama’s ground campaign is so thorough that even if he loses the popular vote, the distribution of those votes will still produce electoral magic. Third, I think that for every husband who openly supports McCain, there is a housewife who secretly supports Obama. It’s not a matter of race or gender, it’s a matter of message: Obama’s message of change resonates with women.
The electoral numbers are staggering. Every major polling organization has Obama ahead by at least 100 electoral votes. The remaining handful of states that haven’t clearly broken left or right in the polls are all leaning left – save Indiana.
According to RCP, McCain has to win 102 of the 111 toss-up electoral votes in order to win the election. As it stands, 100 of those toss-up votes are currently leaning Obama.
It’s game over unless something dramatic happens.