This election is unusual in that the polls seem to move radically from day to day and from pollster to pollster. Most polls show Obama with a significant lead over McCain in terms of the popular vote, although some polls show the race as close or even a virtual dead heat.
However, the popular vote is meaningless. In our presidential elections, only the electoral vote counts. And as things stand now, it is hard to envision a way Obama could lose, barring some incredible gaffe, an October surprise, or Republicans stealing votes.
You can check the projected electoral vote tally at http://www.electoral-vote.com/. As of October 22, Obama had a solid lead in states that total 260 electoral votes. Only 270 are needed to win. In states with a total of 26 electoral votes, Obama has a 6 to 10 point lead. It is conceivable McCain could stage a miracle and take all 26 of these votes, but it is highly unlikely.
The next category is states that are just barely leaning Obama: the polls show a lead of less than five points. These total 78 electoral votes. Again, it is possible that McCain could stage a miracle and take every single one of these states, but it is highly unlikely.
There are, similarly, 14 electoral votes that fall into the “barely McCain” category. McCain absolutely must win all of these if he is to have a chance. And there are 23 electoral votes in states that are categorized as leaning towards McCain. Again, to win, McCain must sweep all of these states.
So, to cut to the chase, Obama simply has to hold on to the 260 electoral votes that are already solidly in his corner, and hold on to any combination of 2 out of 3 of New Hampshire, Colorado, and Virginia.
Even if Obama does not win 2 of these 3 states, he need only win either Florida, Ohio, Missouri, or North Carolina to win the election.
At this point, two weeks before the election, it is difficult to see how Obama could lose. Stranger things have happened, but it is highly unlikely McCain can find a way to win, absent an October surprise or some amazingly dirty tricks that work.
I take note of this, by the way, as a libertarian who doesn’t like either candidate. But a cool evaluation of the facts would lead one to believe an Obama victory is almost a certainty.