Monday, November 03, 2008

Last day

Four years after the last US presidential campaign, and four years since the start of this presidential campaign, it all comes to an end tomorrow. And it's about time. No country in the world conducts campaigns on this scale of time and money. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing but one thing I do know, it makes for epic opera rather than TV movies of the week.

I expect Obama to win. My main source of US election data confirms it; ahead by 7% so no tension there. My source of electoral tension comes from the a sub-presidential race I've been following, the Minnesota senate seat featuring Al Franken (of Al Franken Decade SNL fame). He's running against a Republican incumbent who has adopted "The Hope Express" slogan trying to leech from Obama. While Franken is ahead by a nose (2.5%), the outcome is far from certain.

In the last 24 hours, both Obama and McCain are in hyperkinetic mode, logging thousands of miles in the hope of last minute vote changing. For McCain, staring defeat in the face, this is his swansong and he's making the best of it with tact and grace. For Obama, there's more at stake and he's handing himself accordingly.

Why do people vote the way they do? It beats the hell out of me. There's not much science to it that I can see although science has been working on it. There are articles citing factors such as voter support for candidates who look like them and other reports analyzing different campaign strategies but there is no magic bullet. If there was then governments would never change and candidates would never lose. Show me someone with a sure-fire electoral strategy and I'll show you a fraud.

A side story: I've been fascinated to see how the web has affected this campaign cycle in ways both great and small. Looking for a customized Obama poster or lawn sign or other sign of your very own? They are now just a mouse click away. Much of the huge volume of donations to Obama were harvested by his very effective and attractive web site. You will see the web play an increasingly central role in future campaigns bother in the US and locally.

A lot of people have invested a lot of hopes and dreams in the junior senator from Illinois. And the world conditions which were in place when he announced his candidacy almost 24 months ago have been upended in the last 24 days. I'm sure a lot of his plans for his first 100 days will have to be scrapped and he'll have to rethink and start over. I'm pretty sure he will be up for it.

The next four to eight years will be worth watching.

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