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mccain-nope.jpgWith the American election now just ten days away, it's been widely called for Obama. The bookies are almost as newsworthy as the pollsters nowadays, and Paddypower paid out on a Democrat White House a full nine days ago. 

Obama is having to warn against complacency, which would certainly be my main concern if I was working for him. Why vote when your man's won already?

The signs are clear. Huffington Post's 55-point headlines (surely the largest on the web) have assiduously tracked the disarray among McCain's team, while Politico also notes how the Republican circular firing squad has assembled early.

Nate Silver has Obama's chances of success at 94.9%, albeit that's slightly down from yesterday, and Electoral Vote currently predicts a two-thirds one-third split in the electoral college. States like North Carolina are tentatively shaded blue (why oh why don't the Americans get with the colour-coding programme?), and Montana and North Dakota could go either way. Even Georgia's in play.

Finally, the actual votes are piling up already. Almost a million residents of Georgia have voted early so far, to pick one example, with black turnout massively up.

In this climate, counterfactual speculation has begun. The widely respected Charlie Cook raises one such interesting question, albeit one he dismisses as irrelevant given the headwinds against the Republicans:

"If the senator from Arizona had waged this battle more as John McCain 1.0, the 2000-vintage candidate who was more of a maverick and less of a partisan than the 2008 version, could he have succeeded because he was less tied to his Republican Party and less joined at the hip with President Bush?"

That's certainly plausible, or more plausible than his dubious path to victory now (bomb Iran, anyone?). However, he ran as McCain 1.0 in 2000 and couldn't get nominated: the party (and many of the operatives he hired this year) smeared and vilified him. He would almost certainly have won that year if nominated.

However, he had to become McCain 2.0 this time, the new and not improved Bush-loving and Bush-endorsed version, in order to secure the nomination. That same manoeuvre is now what looks like being fatal for him in the general election. 

But I get anxious with all this talk of landslides, and I don't believe it's over. My insurance bets are in: 5-1 on McCain, and 12-1 on the narrowest Obama victories, and I'm hoping to be out of pocket on both.


I just keep flashing back to 2000, when we all went "Ha ha! Why would the Republicans nominate Bush! He's awful! There's no way that he could ever win!" At least that's what I though. Until I realized that there were people who would vote for him. Twice.

I'm a feared.

I try to reassure myself that the super-close 270+ to 260+ election is a historical anomaly. But obviously I'm scared too. Surely the economic bubble bursting will be the final straw?

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This page was published on October 25, 2008 6:59 PM.

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