Election countdown: Just three weeks left

Not that my writings have shown support for Barack Obama in his quest for the White House – although my total disdain for McCain could have elicited such interpretation – but for the past few days, and in ever increasing numbers, I’ve received congratulatory and celebratory emails from an unusually large number of readers. As if the election giving Obama victory was fait accompli!

Most emails gave at least one resounding reason why Sen. Obama is a shoo-in to win the presidential election. Perhaps the most often cited reason: the chaotic state of the US economy, something which was readily attributed, and with little room for argument, to the party now in power headed by Deregulator Bush – with McCain being just another acolyte of the Reagan doctrine which gave greed a mantle of virtuosity in America’s not-so-free enterprise.

Other than the painful issue of the economy, the contrast in competency between Biden and Palin for the vice-presidential slot seemed too strident for most; much too offensive for some that such grossly unqualified person as Palin would have lacked the humility to decline the offer to share the ticket with Sen. McCain. Perhaps the e-mail that did best in caricaturing Sarah Palin simply referred to her as the “unrepentant confident ignorant” capable of bringing all votes from gun-toting bubbas.

Among the many other reasons cited, one stood out because of its prominence in elections past: the improbable use by the administration of a military October surprise… against Iran, of course. This time, it was pointed out to me, such shenanigans wouldn’t work, and a call like that by Bush to save McCain and the party would probably result in mutiny at the Pentagon.

Poll after poll in the past few days appear to give Obama anywhere between 6 and 12 points of “contagious” advantage among registered voters; however, my training and experience in operations research – and the often unscientific, at times even deceitful, way in which these polls are conducted – makes me question that such lead by Obama really exists.

No; neither poll figures, nor positive affirmations by a mostly progressive readership who find it necessary to go outside the mainstream media to become better informed, are reliable indicators of how the population at large intends to vote. A better barometer for me, one that helps shape my intuition, revolves around the changes I observe in the mildly diverse population I come across in my business consulting activities – I might add that the building trades are well represented.

One salient feature I’ve observed in weighing Obama’s support in 2008 vs. Kerry’s in 2004, and which involves in 80 percent of the cases the very same people, is that half or more of the trades people, in almost all cases male, who voted for Kerry (2004) are now in the undecided column or sport McCain stickers on their cars. And there has been no shift from these people towards Obama as their 401(k)’s have been decimated with the Bush administration receiving the blame. Many of these apparently racist people will tell you when asked that they cannot vote for a black to occupy the White House. These are not people in that transitional period of the struggle for civil rights who should now be in their 60’s and beyond; these are people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who seem to maintain the same prejudices that their parents and grandparents had before.

Hillary Clinton had it right all along… if sadly so. There could be a contingent of these folks (white, blue-collar, and overwhelmingly registered as Democrats) that represents as much as 6 or 7 percent of the total vote… people who voted Democratic in 2004. If half of them vote Republican this year and the other half decide not cast a vote for either party, there could be a distancing between candidates that could approach 10 percent which, when added to anticipated voter suppression by dirty tricksters serving the Republican cause, might prove difficult to overcome by Candidate Obama.

Given the horrific state of the economy and the two unresolved military conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Democratic candidate (Obama) should be favored by a landslide comparable to that Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) obtained over Herbert Hoover (R) in 1932 with 89 percent of the electoral and 59 percent of the popular vote.

Now that we have fear, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, religion & values, anger and greed thrown in the electoral mix… plus a far from perfect way of counting the votes, Barack Obama is going to be hard-pressed to receive the required electoral majority with three weeks left and still some possible “engineered surprises.”

Such an easy referendum in 1932! Why do we make simplicity so difficult in 2008?