Race will be sprint to finish

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Staff
The horses are at the starting gate and the presidential horserace is set to begin. It will be a sprint to the finish line. It will be close with probably a photo finish. In less than six weeks it will be all over but the shouting.
The conventions have ended with their coronations of Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee and John McCain as the Republican standard bearer. For the first time in many years the major party nominees are both sitting members of the U.S. Senate. In recent years most of the nominees have been current or former Governors.
This Senate membership is about the only similarity between the two candidates. McCain is a 72 year old, four-term Arizona Senator, who is short and somewhat unexciting. In contrast, Obama has dynamic charisma and oratorical skills. He is only 47 years old and energetic and has only been in the Senate for three years. The race will center on McCain's stability and experience versus Obama's theme for change.
McCain is shackled with the George Bush Iraq invasion and concurrent national deficit and poor economy. On the other hand, Obama in his short tenure in the Senate has earned the dubious distinction of being the most liberal member of that august body, which includes Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
Given the unpopularity of Bush, the Iraq war, and the economic recession, a Democratic victory appears inevitable. A generic poll shows Americans favor a Democrat by 15 points. However, in a head to head match-up McCain and Obama are even. Remember we do not elect the President directly. It is decided by Electoral College votes. Therefore, the national horserace numbers are irrelevant because the race will be decided in the all important swing states. Obama needs to win Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. All three of these states voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in their Democratic primaries. Also remember more people vote against someone than for someone. Therefore, despite all the tea leaves pointing to a Democratic year, Obama may very well still lose.
The polling numbers portend a significant Democratic landslide in congressional races. Conservative estimates suggest that Democrats could pick up 20 seats in the House and as many as five Senate seats.
It should be an interesting fall.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who spent 16
years in the state legislature.
He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.