It's weird being abroad in the lead up to the election. I'm still connected to the US media, but only the media sources I deliberately choose. When you're in the US, you see headlines as you walk down the street, watch CNN as you wait for your teller at the bank and you hear people talking.
I get the sense that the feeling at home is that Obama has the election all but wrapped up. And with good reason - Obama has an real and steady lead, McCain's unfavorables are high and rising (and Palin's are worse) and Obama raised more money in the last month than McCain has had to spend in the entire campaign.
Nevertheless, I think the sentiment is dangerous. So when MoveOn sent out an email yesterday asking anyone with a blog to spell out some reasons why Obama supporters shouldn't be resting easy, I thought, yes I'd be happy to be your tool.
So here are six reasons why it's time to quiet the "it's in the bag" talk and get back to work:
1. The polls could be off. Many pundits are discounting the idea that voters may be disinclined to tell pollsters they're against Obama for fear of being perceived as racist. We've never had a national referendum on a black man before. No one knows what effect race may have on election day, but it absolutely could still be a factor.
2. Electioneering. Remember Ohio in 2004? Remember 2000? Wonder why Republicans are talking so much about ACORN? Voter suppression efforts have begun already, and the new requirement for a state-issued ID will make them much more effective than in the past. Note: 1/5 black people in the US don't have a state issued ID.
3. Obama's demographic. Lots of factors affect who shows up on election day and who stays home. Much of Obama's base is young and/or poor first time voters - folks that could easily stay home on election day under the impression that the contest was in the bag.
4. October surprise. For the last month or two, I've felt like the Bush Administration (I originally wrote "we" - ha!) has been trying to pick a fight with Pakistan or Venezuela/Bolivia. Anything like that, a terrorist attack, good news from Iraq or the bin Laden front would give McCain a huge bump.
5. Things change in the final weeks. Al Gore was seven points down just days before the 2000 election and went on to win the popular vote, in 1980 Regan was eight points down in late October. Almost all of the presidential contests in the last forty years have tightened in the final days. This one will too.
6. Margin matters. Political capital is earned in margins of victories. If Obama is at 353 today, getting to 380 means he could do more to get the country on the right track once in office. His efforts also help Democrats running for Congress, which I think has something to do with implementation of policy too.
So keep doing what you're doing. Spread the word that it's not over until, as my father taught me, the fat lady sings. And for the love of your country - vote!
Tomorrow, I'll discuss my experience voting from 6,000 miles away...