>OBSERVATION: Will Obama fail to win?

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Like the race between the tortoise and the hare, Barack Obama can out sprint the lumbering John McCain any day of the week. Thus, McCain was right when he said that the media had now written him off. Aside from a few columnists, the news corps, entertainment-as-news comics and left-wing talk show jabber mouths are back to gloating over their vision of Obama hopping over the finish line by a wide margin.

I have reluctantly surrendered to the possibility that Obama can now win, but I have not written off McCain just yet – not by a longshot.

The most interesting bewilderment about this election is why Obama is not slamdunking McCain into some neo-Goldwater status. McCain is portrayed as a geezer – and a cranky one at that. The economy has tanked. The war drags on. George Bush continues to be the increasingly unpopular dunce-in-charge. McCain and his campaign cannot seem to maintain footing on the slippery ledge of the political chasm. The veep candidate is made out to be a dizzy blond slapped with a pseudo-scandal. It even appears that the less-popular-than-Bush congressional democrats are poised for gains in both chambers.

Then there is the money. Obama, by virtue of flip flopping on public funding, is proving that his devotion to campaign finance reform is as fragile as anything and that the entire concept is fatally flawed. However, his Machiavellian switch-a-roo, augmented by some very questionable money bundling schemes, means the Illinois senator enjoys a substantial financial advantage.

Finally, there is Obama himself. A gifted speaker. Tall. Movie star handsome, with an engaging smile. Kennedyesque. He can sell anything – or more appropriately, nothing. McCain, but virtue of his age and handicaps, has the movements of a hand puppet, with a voice like the mad scientist in a horror flick.

Yet … there are those polls. No matter the situation, Obama cannot seem to breakaway from McCain. They are still sweating heavily in the Obama camp – and well they should. First, the polls are probably inaccurate. The current 10 point lead Obama sees in Ohio, for example, is just bad polling. That state will not be a blow out for Obama, if he even carries it at all.

Then there is the tendency for the Republican candidate to pick up the lion’s share of the independent votes. The notion some have, that “independent” is synonymous with “liberal,” is just wrong.

This election may see the nationalization of the Bradley Effect, which suggests that African American candidates (at least at the gubernatorial level) enjoy significantly higher polling numbers than vote totals. There is every reason to assume that this will be even more dramatic in the presidential campaign, since there has been so much accusation of racism against those who do not support Obama.

From the get-go, everyone assumed that this would be another in our modern series of close presidential elections, where anything can happen. That has not changed. Give McCain a couple good days and/or Obama a couple bad days, and the dynamic of this race completely changes.

There is always talk of an “October Surprise.” Maybe we have seen it, but cannot recognize it at the moment. Perhaps the October Surprise with how far off the current polling is. I can only say… if the polls are proven to be way off base, the truth will not be to good news for Obama.

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