Is it over? With more than two weeks to go before Americans go to the polls on Nov. 4, do we already know the result? Could be. Democrat Barack Obama seems to have the race sewn-up. His lead is big and growing. CNN combines a range of survey results in a poll of polls and we give Obama an eight-percentage-point advantage.
But the margin is magnified in the odd Electoral College system that the US uses to choose its president.
It takes 270 electoral votes to win. CNN estimates that Obama has good reason to expect 277 of them, McCain can expect 174, and 87 are still too close to call. In other words, Obama may have already won the Electoral College even if McCain can manage to get every single vote that is still up for grabs.
Prominent Republicans can t hide their despair.
Retired Republican Senator John Danforth told the New York Times that this is a year where everything that could go in Obama s favor is going in Obama s favor.
Everything that could go against McCain is against him. It s absolutely the worst kind of perfect storm.
And yet, the election is weeks away.
There is always the possibility of what s known in American politics as an October Surprise, something sudden that changes people s voting plans.
Richard Nixon, for example, was helped by the premature announcement in October 1972 of an imminent end to the US war in Vietnam (a conflict that actually ended three years later). Or the people could be lying about their opinions. US pollsters call that the Bradley Effect, after Tom Bradley, an African-American candidate who was ahead in the polls but still lost his 1982 campaign to be governor of California. The assumption ever since has been that white voters lied about their voting intentions to avoid appearing racist. Things could also swing McCain s way for some other reason. At the very least because he s a determined man who says he isn t giving up.
I have been written off on so many occasions, he told my colleague, CNN s Dana Bash, that it s hard for me to count…. We re fighting the good fight – that s what it s all about. McCain has only a few weeks left to fight. And many of his supporters are already suggesting the battle may be over.
Jonathan Mann discusses poll results and political plays, providing viewers with analysis and plenty of election campaign color on CNN’s The Campaign Trail every Friday at 7.30pm and Saturday at 3pm and 9pm.