Because I am so good at this, I'm going to go ahead and offer up my predictions for election night: Barack Obama will win with 355 electoral votes.
What to Watch For on Tuesday Night
Despite John McCain's claims that they are making a last minute national surge -- his campaign manager, Rick Davis, argued that Barack Obama is advertising in Arizona, Montana and Georgia in a desperate last-ditch attempt to broaden his territory to eke out a win -- there are hardly any scenarios in which McCain pulls this off.
McCain's one hope is to win Pennsylvania, but poll guru Nate Silver has said that Obama has a better chance of winning Arizona than losing the Keystone State...so, not great odds for McCain. As I said last week, I think Obama's electoral floor is 272, and that's without Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana and North Carolina. Barack Obama doesn't need any of those states to win, but McCain needs them all, plus PA.
Once Virginia and Pennsylvania are called for Obama, we can start popping the champagne. (Nonetheless, I also have a bottle of Jack Daniel's on hand, just in case.)
Oh, I am looking forward to cleaning house in a big way. Buh-bye, Senator Stevens and Senator Dole. Sayonara, Michelle Bachman. I am also crossing my fingers for the end of Ohio's crazy congresswoman Jean Schmidt. My wish list includes victories for Al Franken in Minnesota and incumbent governor Chris Gregoire in Washington, but those are too close to call.
Proposition 8 in California...we just have to hope.
In Oregon, it appears the bell will toll for Senator Gordon Smith. I struggled with my vote on this one. I don't have any particular issue with Sen. Smith; I think he's one of the few congressional Republicans with any integrity, and he's been a faithful steward for the state of Oregon. That was almost enough for me to vote for him, right there. His challenger, Jeff Merkley, ran some dispiriting ads, and Smith responded in kind, which has been very disappointing. Nonetheless, when it came right down to it, I couldn't deny that Merkley is going to be the more reliable vote on issues that are important to me.
The Future of the Republican Party
Civil war's a-brewin'.
Many Republicans will chuck Sarah Palin under the bus as the albatross that sank the USS McCain; others will hold her up as a martyr. McCain will be marginalized, blamed by the economic conservatives for selling out to the fundamentalists, and villainized by social conservatives for being too soft on Obama.
There is no "Republican Party," and hasn't been for a long time. The leading lights of the party, such as it is, are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. John McCain was the sorry compromise that emerged from the inability of the two wings of the party to agree. Romney is the standard-bearer for the small-government, big-business neocons who are far more concerned about the capital gains and inheritance taxes than they are about gay marriage. Many of those Republicans, despite their philosophical differences with the Democrats, will vote for Obama this year because he's the lone voice of sanity on the ballot. (Hence the rash of recent endorsements.)
What's left is the loony right. They will be convinced that they lost because they weren't right-wing enough. These are the folks who live in the fantasy universe where Barack Obama is a socialist radical Islamist whose friends are PLO spokesmen and domestic terrorists, who will ban the Bible, prohibit religious speech and force gay marriage on the country while taxing us all into poverty. Their new heroes are Sarah Palin and, yes, Joe the Plumber.