US08: Two weeks out

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The United States will elect its 44th President in less than two weeks time, on Tuesday, November 4. You would have to say that Barack Obama is in a dominant position as we move into the final stretch. According to Pollster.com, Barack Obama holds 286 electoral votes, John McCain holds 157 and 95 EVs are considered toss-ups, although most “toss-up” states lean slightly towards Obama.

Senator Obama has been the clear frontrunner ever since he took the lead in the Democratic primary. Since the 2006 midterm elections delivered a victory to the Democrats, polls have leaned towards the Democrats for most of the campaign. Senator McCain briefly took the lead in the aftermath of the Republican National Convention, as Governor Sarah Palin dominated the media. Poor performances from Governor Palin, combined with the financial crisis, saw Obama open a gaping lead in the national polls and in the key states. This has begun to narrow in the last few days, although Obama remains well in front.

In particular, the electoral geography strongly favours Barack Obama. John Kerry and Al Gore each came only one state short of winning government, meaning that Barack Obama, assuming he can hold onto all the Kerry states, only needs to win one medium-sized Bush state to win the election. According to Pollster, every single seat won by John Kerry is in the Obama camp, as well as New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia. In addition, every single toss-up state voted for Bush in 2004. This means that the battle is being fought almost exclusively on John McCain’s territory, meaning he needs to win practically every swing state in order to come out on top.

Funding makes it even harder for McCain to compete. Barack Obama has demonstrated a phenomenal ability to raise money, including from gaining huge numbers of smaller donations, as opposed to larger donations from richer donors. In the month of September, Obama raised a mind-boggling $150 million. Over 3.1 million Americans have now donated to the Obama campaign, and the average donation still sits under $100 per donor. In contrast, the McCain campaign has accepted public funding, which will dramatically limit its spending power from August to November.

The last few days have seen a narrative emerging of conservatives turning on John McCain, some endorsing Barack Obama while many have criticised the McCain campaign’s strategy in the last few weeks. Many have expressed disappointment with the performance of Sarah Palin and how the decision to appoint her to the ticket reflect’s on John McCain’s ability to serve as President. This peaked with the endorsement of Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

With two weeks to go, Barack Obama looks in a very strong position, and very likely to win. While nothing can be ruled out, it will be extremely difficult for John McCain to overcome Obama’s massive advantage. The longest and most expensive election campaign in US history looks likely to end with a historical result, with Obama likely to win.

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