Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nobama or Obama?

Watching the last two days of the US Presidential election, I am reminded of 2000 election and how close that was. Bush won by less than 600 in Florida and Florida (and the Supreme Court) meant that Bush won the Presidency. John Kerry was also closer on election day than the polls suggested. The polls are tightening and the number of undecided remains a large percentage – up to 12% in some states and around 7-10% in swing states. It’s going to be close.

Obama and Biden are playing a strong end-game, but the race appears to be tightening. McCain shouldn’t be written off just yet. McCain and Palin are also message aligned, consistent and hitting key buttons – taxation, wealth redistribution (which apparently is wrong), socialism and fear. It’s all they have left. Obama is on offensive, tackling Florida and several McCain states and McCain is on the defensive – a position he seems to relish. All of a sudden, this 21 month long odyssey is getting interesting.

So Tuesday will be tight. When it comes to the wire, what matters will be the skills of the two campaigns in actually getting the vote out. The weather will also be a factor. As a former election agent for the Labour Party (1974 Cardiff North), what can go wrong will go wrong – in our case, a bus full of pensioners crashed into the opponents bus, a key election worker had a heart attack at the ballot station and our candidate said a few unfortunate things the day before the vote. But each vote counts.

Looks like Obama will make it and then the campaign will really start. He has a lot to do. He probably inherits a United States in the worst state its been in since the first President began his first term after the civil war. He will need a lot of help. A lot.

He needs to reach out to the world and restore the multi-lateral approach Clinton and Reagan pursued. He needs to help Americans understand that they cant live their lives on credit and get them to change their behaviour and he will have to face up to the fact that many of the programs he imagined he could offer before the financial crash cannot now be afforded. It will be a tough first 100 days.

At least I get to spend Tuesday evening with Candy Crowley of CNN. who I think is very smart and very seductive. The thinking man's Barefoot Contessa.

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