Simultaneously, although it should have been anticipated many, many months (years?) ago, came the recent crisis of global capitalism of which I wrote last week. As of this writing, even though the so-called “bailout” legislation has finally been passed by the US Congress, global stock prices continue to plummet, “wealth” simply evaporates over the period of an hour or so and financial institutions around the world need to be “rescued” by various governments. A global panic seems to have set in as traders in New York, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong, with their herd mentality, are shedding stocks as quickly as they can. Some are mentioning the unmentionable; i.e., that the current crisis is the worst since the Great Depression of eighty years ago.
While this crisis may be bad for many of us, it was manna from heaven for Obama’s presidential quest. Every time Obama needs a break, it seems to happen. Obama began pounding McCain with regard to the economy and his polling points went up. McCain’s erratic behavior and decision making over the last two weeks has hardly improved his standing.
McCain is seen to have an advantage with regard to foreign affairs while Obama’s expertise is seen in addressing domestic economic problems; in bringing change to the way Washington does things. With the economy at the forefront of voter thinking, Obama, according to the latest polling data, has surged into a significant lead. The average of all the various polls currently has Obama at 50%, to McCain's 43%.
More importantly, Obama is leading in the so-called swing states, and even some that have heretofore been deemed “safe Republican”. The American Electoral College is a complicated process that is not understood even by most Americans. I will try to explain how it works in a future column.
Suffice to say, there are 538 votes in the Electoral Collage and, in order to win, a candidate needs a simple majority: 270 votes. Some states are deemed to be “safe Republican” and others as “safe Democratic”. Other states lean to one party or the other. A final category is a group of states labeled "tossup,” which could go in either direction. It is the states labeled tossup that are the target of intense campaigning. In recent days, Obama has jumped ahead in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. He has also gone slightly ahead in formerly Republican states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. At the last count, if the election were held today, Obama would get 296 electoral votes and McCain 163. 79 are tossup. This would be enough for an Obama victory.