Is black the new ginger?

Is black the new ginger?

Next week is the culmination of an epic contest that has gone on for much of the year. Hundreds of millions of people have followed it with increasing fanaticism. The favourite has swapped around a few times in recent months. And there’s been controversy, mess-ups on all sides, vast amounts of media coverage and opinion, and worldwide interest. But currently it looks like, for the first time, a black man will win; he’s up by a few points on his rival with only a few days to go. Though I fear, as the recent trend has shown, that legal courts will have the final say. Therefore, good luck to Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Yay, a Brit, the first since Damon Hill. I’ll be missing the first hour of the ALA conference in Chicago (sorry Jenny, but I have money on this) to watch it, somewhere, on TV.

Oh yeah, there’s that other contest as well. Who’s going to win that? I’ve asked loads of people so far. Democrats and left-leaners think it’ll be Obama. A few Republicans said, very unhappily, that it would be close or a toss-up (am guessing that some of them couldn’t bring themselves to say they thought Obama would win). The Obama signs have outnumbered the McCain signs in communities close to the sea, adding weight to the “Fly over” theory. In Seattle, the signs were predominantly Democrat, except in the rich neighbourhoods where they were 50/50. I wanted to get a few pictures of Republican signs in these neighbourhoods, but my Seattle chums were nervous about stopping for any length of time there in case they got hassled.

Montana is about 50/50 from the small fraction I’ve seen, as was Salinas. Montana is interesting, as to a person everyone I’ve met has been genuinely pleasant and genuinely friendly. But many of these people have said they’re voting for McCain, giving a wide range of reasons. So nice people can be Republicans, and vice versa. Interestingly, I’ve also met several people who are going to vote for Ron Paul(!) instead of McCain, but I have no idea if this means anything significant. Overall, surely it’ll be a lot closer than various national polls (what a waste of time they are, as it’s the Electoral College votes that matter) are saying?

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Pennsylvania is, not surprisingly, turning out to be a key state – whoever wins that has a massive chance of being in the White House, and the demographics make me think it may be a long night here. Especially as that is one of the few states that doesn’t have early voting, so problems, queues et al. are expected on election day. The Tom Bradley effect will play a part; in fact, the 1992 UK general election keeps returning to mind over these past few weeks. Up until the last few days, Labour looked like they’d do it. But, with a week to go, they held their triumphant rally in Sheffield. Bad mistake; they looked like they had won, were arrogant, and slipped dramatically in the polls the next day.

Combined with an English version of the Bradley effect (people not, in the end, voting for someone who was Welsh and/or ginger – remember the “Welsh ginger windbag” stuff that was thrown around by a lot of people?), and people not admitting to pollsters that they were going to vote for the (unfashionable) right wing party though they did, Labour lost. So the 30 minute infomercial by Obama last night looks like& quite possibly an unwise move, and it’s an obvious line of attack by the Republicans to say that OB has already picked his staff and is claiming victory. Really unwise ;for Obama to be sitting in a presidential-like office on TV (and ripe for spoofing over the next few days). So if Obama loses, then black is the new ginger. And the Chicago fire department will have a very busy evening.

My prediction: The Republicans to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Obama et al over these last few days. Pastor Wright will be brought up; the ‘clinging to guns and bible’ will be played big in Pennsylvania. Various not-officially-affiliated groups will insinuate and claim everything about OB. If that doesn’t work, they’ll just straight lie. Actually that’s already started with Dole’s “Godless” ad against Hagan in North Carolina. Palin to further make sure she doesn’t have the mud stick to her if the Republicans lose, so she can run in 2012; which is quite possible. Divisive though she is, she does seem extremely popular amongst many people.

Obama to win by 280 Electoral Colleges Votes to 258. The result will not come out until the afternoon or evening of the 5th due to problems just waiting to happen, partially through that no early voting and legal challenges in Pennsylvania. Of the swing states, Obama to take Ohio, Colorado and Virginia, while McCain takes New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Further prediction: After the election, there’s going to be a lot of angry people. No matter who wins. If Obama wins, I hope that the security services are up to the job of protecting him from extremists of which there’ll be many, and a similar long-term political onslaught that Clinton faced in term two. It’ll start on day one. If McCain wins, then I fear there will be a lot of fires of the man-made variety, and my plans post-Chicago may need revising.

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