Missing from your analysis in this week's column is the phenomenon that is Barack Obama. The economy was key on Tuesday as it was in 1932. Yet, no less a figure than FDR was still necessary to seize the day. Barack Obama's unique distinctions of being our first African-American candidate and his inspirational rhetoric were intangibles made manifest in votes cast and electoral votes won.
In an age when the word "historic" is vastly overused, this truly deserves the label. Regular readers of this column and blog probably know how we read the election. All through the Democratic contest -- except for a few months when Obama stumbled -- we rated him as the candidate to beat -- far stronger than the pundits (and Hillary) realized.
Congrats aren't only in line for Obama and his team. Adam Reilly and David Bernstein deserve kudos for their superb coverage of the campaign. And David, of course, called it for Obama all along.
Right now, there appear to be only a handful of states where the outcome is still in doubt -- Indiana, NC, Fla., Va.,Missouri, and a handful of small western states. Even if they all go to McCain, however, he can't get to 270. Obama will win -- with anything from about 320-390 electoral votes. Not a landslide, but a very decisive victory, nevertheless.
The headline pretty much says it all.
McCain has now narrowed Obama's lead to three points in both Florida and NC with less than half the vote counted in each state. He still leads more substantially than predicted in Virginia and narrrowly in Indiana. Should he sweep all these states -- and go on to win Missouri and Ohio -- the race is going to be much closer in the electoral college than it looked even an hour ago.
With Obama winning Pennsylvania, McCain must now win NC, Va., Ind., Ohio, and Florida to even have a chance to win. Right now, he trails in both Florida and NC, with less than half the vote counted in each state.
John McCain continues to show strength in Virginia and he retains a narrow lead in Indiana. But remember, he virtually has to sweep every toss-up state to get to 270 -- unless he unexpectedly wins something like Pennsylvania or Minnesota. For the next half hour or so, keep an eye on Florida where Obama leads in very early returns -- as long as Obama retains his lead there, he's just about home free.
It's 7 pm and only two states are beginning to report. But even with these, we can already see that it may be a big night for Obama. With 10% of the vote in, Kentucky -- one of the strongest GOP states in the country -- is barely going for McCain. And Obama is dead even with McCain in Indiana -- a state where Republicans usually run very well.
Check out his predicted map here.
Here are two good guides on how to watch tonight's returns from two veterans -- Tom Edsall at the Huffington Post and Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics.
We'll be blogging it regularly too. But to save yourself some time, here's what to look for early on:
EARLY CLOSERS -- 6PM -- KENTUCKY AND INDIANA: Obama is surprisingly close in Indiana.
With his lead holding at five or six in the tracking polls, Barack Obama in our view now has a 90% chance of winning the election. Of course, if you're a pessimist, that 10% chance for McCain . . . .
All the polls are now coming into virtual agreement with Barack Obama holding about a 5-7 point lead. Should he lose now-- for whatever reason -- we're looking, perhaps, at the biggest surprise in the history of presidential politics -- on a par with Dewey-Truman in 1948.
With Barack Obama continuing to hold about a five-point lead in most
public opinion polls, the only road to victory for John McCain is that
all the undecideds break his way. That's the argument Dick Morris is
making, for example. He says that Obama is virtually assumed to be the
victor now -- and has thus been "incumbentized" -- which means there
could well be a shift against him in the final hours.
America went to bed after watching Barack Obama accept his nomination. Instead of waking up to headlines heralding his nomination forty-five years after Dr. King's 'dream' speech, we saw breaking alerts that Alaska's Sarah Palin was Senator McCain's running mate. America asked Who? In time, the answers would encompass everything from hockey to cocky.