If you believe the polls being reported by the media, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) has a commanding lead over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the race for the White House. One source I have been using to track the electoral vote count is on this website: http://www.electoral-vote.com/. 538 electoral votes available; 270 needed to win. As of October 27, they show the count as Obama 375; McCain 157, almost a landslide. This is why Sen. McCain claims that Sen. Obama is "measuring the drapes" for the White House although Obama has made no such claim of apparent victory and warns voters not to get complacent urging them to get to the polls.
Now, according to my unscientific method and analysis, there are several factors in play that I predict will make this race to 270 much closer than the experts think. Let's briefly look at the history of some key battleground states. In 2000, you had the recount debacle in Florida with the "hanging chads", misreporting of data, and the premature end to the recount by partisan forces resulting in a victory for George Bush by about 325 votes (out of almost 6,000,000 votes cast). In 2004, talk of a slew of voter irregularities plagued the Ohio vote which caused delays as well, although nowhere near as bad as Florida in 2000.
This year, both Florida and Ohio will once again be pivotal to watch. However, I believe this year the state to watch that will determine who wins the White House will be Pennsylvania. Historically, Pennsylvania along with many other states in the Northeast favors Democrats. But, there have been some interesting developments in Pennsylvania in the past few months that could make a difference in the outcome. First, take Sen. Obama's comments about blue-collar individuals in Pennsylvania communities that "get bitter and cling to their guns and religion" in hard times. Second, the recent comments made by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) that residents in Western PA are "racist and redneck" gave the radical right-wing media fuel to ignite a firestorm of discussion amongst these communities in Pennsylvania that in my mind have been racist, redneck and gun-clinging since day one. In other words, these people wouldn't vote for a black president no matter who is on the ticket - Democrat or Republican, which gives validity to Rep. Murtha's comments and somewhat diffuses the argument made by the right-wing extremists.
Now, let's break down the battleground states and see which areas favor which candidates. In Pennsylvania, McCain should do well in most of the state except for the city of Pittsburgh and in the Philadelphia city and surburbs (Montgomery and Bucks County) where Obama is the overwhelming favorite. In Ohio, Obama should do well in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area), Franklin County (Columbus area), Lucas County (Toledo) and Montgomery County (Dayton). McCain will do well in the rural areas, but the key area to watch will be Hamilton County (Cincinnati area). In Florida, Obama should carry Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Leon County (Tallahassee) with McCain carrying the areas more populated by retirees.
Current early voting trends indicate record turnout for this election with the majority of new voters registered as Democrats. The experts predict this favors Sen. Obama and he should have no problem winning the election on November 4. However, with the potential of the "Bradley effect" coming into play as well as several other factors such as voter suppression and voter discouragment due to long lines at the polls, this election is far from over and has the potential to be another nail biter that could drag through the night.
PLEASE make your voices heard and make your vote matter this historic election year!