The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Metaphor for an Endgame


September 24, 2008

While I am never one to question the wisdom of the great Yogi Berra, we’re starting to get a picture of how this Presidential election will play out–and it looks like Obama is clearly in the driver’s seat.*

Take Nate’s analysis of the electoral map and today’s Washington Post poll that gives Obama a 9 point lead.

Two factors are working in Obama’s favor. First, historically, early September polls–after the convention bump has dissipated– tend to give a pretty solid read on the eventual outcome (PDF). Despite the high profile of the Debates, endless important speeches, millions of dollars worth of advertising, and countless hours spent canvassing swing voters, the person who is ahead at this point in the cycle tends to win. Obama has a small but steady lead in just about all the major polls, including the major average poll of polls like RealClear Politics and Nate’s 538. Obama is clearly the leader in the clubhouse now.

Second, the Electoral math is strongly in Obama’s favor. I’m borrowing from Nate’s analysis here, because its a very critical point. If you take the states where Obama has a strong lead and looks likely to win (Kerry states minus NH, plus NM and IA), you have Obama at 260 electoral votes. Push CO into the Obama camp, which looks increasingly likely, and you have a tie. Thus, Obama needs to win ANY ONE of NV, NH, OH, FL, IN, NC, MO to win the election, while McCain must win ALL of them plus pick off one of Obama’s core states. This means Obama can play offense while McCain must play defense, and puts Obama in a very strong position.

A lot is going to happen in the next 2 months–so don’t head for the exits in the 3rd quarter/7th inning–but Obama looks to have the inside track to the White House.

*There were like 5 other metaphors that I thought I could use here, everything from the Fat Lady starting to sing to Obama’s with a 3 furlong lead past the post…. Really, we could do a whole post on metaphors to capture the wide array of different ways to try to capture the present phenomenon.

How about this: As a Bonus Reader Challenge, try out some of your favorite metaphors (or similes) in the comments.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.