One last comment on the forthcoming election. Lord, I will be happy when this is behind us. Unless Obama loses, in which case I must decide whether to kill myself or buy a one way ticket to Paris.
The entire campaign has been really bizarre, and I have been trying very hard to make sense of it. I have come up with an explanation, which may have some truth in it. I offer it simply as a sop to those of you who, like me, are way beyond obsession and into hysteria, and hence need something to calm us down.
The focus of my puzzlement has been the sudden dramatic collapse of Obama's very large lead on the occasion of the first debate. Since all the polling suggested that the country was dramatically polarized, with an unusually small number of respondents to the polls identifying themselves as "undecided," I simply could not make sense of the dramatic reversal of fortunes as a consequence of one listless debate performance. Had there been a large number of undecided voters, the reversals might have been comprehensible, but how could Obama virtually overnight go, in Nate Silver's excellent statistical analysis, from an 87.1% chance of victory to a 61.1% chance? [He is back up to a 74.4% chance, thank the Lord.]
There are, it seems to me, only two possible explanations. The first, which I do not believe at all, is that the polls either before or after the debate were cooked or incompetently conducted. That way lies paranoia and madness. The second, which I have decided is the only explanation that makes sense, is this: From the beginning, the race was going to be very close. A bad Republican primary season and some unforced Romney errors influenced inattentive voters unduly before the post-Labor Day period, yielding unrealistic poll numbers that made it look as though Obama was going to run away with the election. The arrival of the real election season coincided with Obama's poor showing in the first debate to jolt natural Romney supporters back to the position they were destined to occupy anyway. They were never really persuadable by the Democrats. So, after the second and third debates more or less equalized the situation, the polls began to show pretty much the sort of tight race that it was always going to be, with Obama in a small but solid lead.
This explanation has the great advantage, I think, of comporting with the expectations of the Obama campaign team, who are, in my experience, the smartest bunch of pros modern American politics has ever seen. From the outset, they were sure they would be facing Romney, they were convinced that he was the strongest candidate the Republicans could put forward, and they thought they would have a turnout election in which their best chance of success was a superb ground game.
There are now no more turning points, no more startling revelations, just a grinding effort to get out the vote, early if possible but otherwise on election day. My sunny optimism, which reached its peak in my happy blog post that Obama would win and Romney would lose, has given way to a sullen, determined, gut-wrenching slog from news cycle to news cycle as I await Election Day. My pricey bottle of Chateau neuf du Pape will remain unopened until Obama takes Ohio, or at least New Hampshire.
In the next ten days, I will strive to find something else to blog about.