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Here, in short, is what to expect tomorrow:

Who will win?

The outcome of the election is not in doubt. Barack Obama will be the next president of the USA.

When will we know the results in each state?

Check out this article by Nate Silver for a nice time-line of when polls close in each state and when one can expect the networks to call them.

How low can Obama’s tally possibly go?

A variety of factors can go against BHO tomorrow. It may turn out that the pollsters were overestimating the youth and black votes. Obama may suffer heavily from Coal-gate, especially in some of the midwestern and Appalachian states. There may be a unexpected emergence of some kind of Bradley effect.

Several states, including biggies like FL, MO and NC, remain too close to call. On a bad day, Obama could lose them all. However, some things are not in doubt. Obama will win all Kerry states. He will win IA and NM easily. And even if he has a very bad day, he will still carry CO and NV, albeit by a small margin.

Taking these into account, the lowest Obama can go is 278. And he needs only 269 EVs to be the next president. Obama getting 278 EVs corresponds to a scenario like below:

How high can Obama’s tally go?

A very good day tomorrow, fuelled by massive youth and black turnout, will mean that Obama not only carries all the swing states, but also states like GA, ND and MT. And if he ends up winning these deep red states, he will probably also triumph in AZ, McCain’s home state. However, I do not see him winning WV or AR, notwithstanding some old polls suggesting he was close there.

If you do the math, you will see that the highest Obama can go is 406 . That would be a massive blowout. See the map below for the scenario that leads to this number:

So, what’s the likely range?

A variety of factors make this election rather hard to call. However, let’s face it, the scnearios that lead to Obama geting over 400 EV’s, or keep him under 280, are unlikely. Obama will probably lose GA and AZ . And most likely, he will win VA. So with a fairly high probability, Obama’s final EV count will lie between 291 and 381. My personal hunch is that he will get towards the high end of this range.

And finally, this is just an election. It is useful to remember the following points, articulated by Michael Totten before the 2004 election:

People who vote for the other guy aren’t stupid, brainwashed, or evil. They are your friends and family. Someone you love will almost certainly cancel your vote. (My wife cancels out mine.)

If, by some chance, everyone you know votes for the loser it won’t mean the election was stolen. It will only show that you live in a bubble.

If this thing is close (the victor could easily win by 0.1 percent) try not to read too much into it. We’ll still be closely divided.

If the election doesn’t go your way, don’t pop off as though America were Guatemala under the generals. You’ll get lots of attention, but it won’t be the kind you want. People will laugh, not near you but at you.

To which, let me add: both Obama and McCain are big government statists. Nothing that happens tomorrow will prevent tragedies like this, this or this. Both Obama and McCain will use your money to stop you from enjoying pot, driving without a seatbelt or eating bacon dogs. So chill out and enjoy.

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There are at least two good reasons why libertarians should not be supporting McCain this election.

One of those is fairly straightforward: Obama is better. I have written several posts in the past elaborating on this point. To put it briefly, Obama is no libertarian, not even close, but on some of the most important issues facing us — foreign policy, civil liberties, war on drugs, thwarting the Christianist agenda — he is better than McCain. Even on the economy, where libertarians usually agree with the conservatives, I’d go with Obama — McCain has been an erratic, populist, nightmare.

The second issue is one that I have not posted on as often but it is as important, if not more. The libertarians and the country need to teach the Republicans a lesson. The party of Goldwater and Reagan — once a friend to so many libertarian principles — is in its present avatar a populist, dogmatic, anti-intellectual, collectivist nightmare.

No one has expressed this second viewpoint more eloquently than Radley Balko. In a recent article, published at Fox and Reason, he writes:

While I’m not thrilled at the prospect of an Obama administration (especially with a friendly Congress), the Republicans still need to get their clocks cleaned in two weeks, for a couple of reasons.

First, they had their shot at holding power, and they failed. They’ve failed in staying true to their principles of limited government and free markets. They’ve failed in preventing elected leaders of their party from becoming corrupted by the trappings of power, and they’ve failed to hold those leaders accountable after the fact. Congressional Republicans failed to rein in the Bush administration’s naked bid to vastly expand the power of the presidency (a failure they’re going to come to regret should Obama take office in January). They failed to apply due scrutiny and skepticism to the administration’s claims before undertaking Congress’ most solemn task—sending the nation to war. I could go on.

[…] A humiliated, decimated GOP that rejuvenates and rebuilds around the principles of limited government, free markets, and rugged individualism is really the only chance for voters to possibly get a real choice in federal elections down the road.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that’s how the party will emerge from defeat. But the Republican Party in its current form has forfeited its right to govern.

Here’s the whole article.

And while I am at it,  if you are an eligible voter and a friend to individual freedom, do consider voting for Bob Barr. I’ll post more on Barr in the future, but suffice it to say that he is the real deal — a man who was won over by the power of libertarian ideas. He is an intelligent and experienced politician and his conversion to libertarianism — from every piece of evidence I have seen — is a genuine one. So do consider him,  especially if you live in a non-swing state.

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Watch McCain lose the remaining undecided women :

So how many EV’s will Obama get? 333? 348? 375? More?

Right now I am guessing 364 369 , on the assumption that he will win NC, MO and WV but lose IN.

[Update] Five Thirty Eight has a post today, where they … basically agree with me, though they leave West Virginia as a toss-up.

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The polling seems to be getting stronger for Obama with every passing day. Five Thirty Eight currently gives Obama a 95.8% chance of winning the election, and that is after accounting for some tightening of the polls in the coming weeks.

More astoundingly, no fewer than seven current polls show Obama with a double-digit lead nationally.

Nate Silver writes:

It’s fairly unusual for a candidate to have such a sustained run of momentum so deep into the campaign cycle. And it does appear to be real momentum, with some real feedback loops: the worse McCain’s poll numbers become, the more desperate his campaign looks, and the more desperate his campaign looks, the worse his poll numbers become.

McCain now has to go on a run of his own, a large enough run to wipe at least 8 points off of Obama’s lead, and perhaps more like 9 or 10 to cover his inferior position in the Electoral College and the votes that Obama is banking in early and absentee balloting. It is imperative that McCain does not just draw tomorrow night’s debate, does not just win a victory on points, but emerges with a resounding victory, the sort that leaves the spin room gasping for air. Failing that, we are getting into dead girl, live boy territory.

The question is no longer whether Obama will win, but by how much. The electoral college has a size of 540 EVs. If things continue the way they are, Obama will end up winning close to 400 EVs which would be a stunning landslide.

McCain has to completely destroy Obama in tomorrow’s debate to get his campaign back on track. Unfortunately for him, that is about as likely as Sarah Palin writing a dissertation on the theory of evolution.

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Both candidates running for presidency are bad from a libertarian perspective, but, my opinion, as I have often stated on this blog, is that McCain is clearly worse. Radley Balko, who shares that view, has a fine post explaining why.

Obama is a seriously flawed candidate. And yes, Obama united with a Democratic Congress is a scary proposition. But on the issues I cover and that I think are most important this election, Obama is clearly the better choice. Will he disappoint, even on those issues? Almost assuredly.

But we’ve had eight years of a GOP administration, and before that eight years of a mostly GOP Congress. The result has been an explosion in the growth of government that by every measure has been the largest since at least the Johnson administration, and by some measures since FDR. I see no reason why a McCain administration would be any different, particularly given that he has made bipartisanship and deal-making the hallmark of his career (and let’s face it, “bipartisanship” is rarely a case where the parties come together to shrink the government–it almost always results in more government). In other words, the GOP has consistently been worse than the Dems even on the issues where they’re supposed to be better.

I agree. And as I point out in his comments, it is not just about the issues. Obama might have positions I strongly disagree with, but anyone who has followed his career closely or read his works will see that he possesses undoubted intelligence, a good temperament, intellectual curiosity and above all an ability to see both sides of a question (more than McCain does, anyway). Also, as he has demonstrated with his stand on several issues, he prefers a ‘nudge’ to outright force in influencing behavior (see this post of mine). That’s much more than one can say about McCain, who epitomizes authoritarianism.

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A month an a half from now, when John McCain’s team tries to pinpoint the reason they lost the election, they will eventually stumble upon a date: September 24.

It was a day that saw McCain making his disastrous debate postponement offer (stellarly countered by Obama) that saw him mocked by Dave Letterman and much of the National Review crowd. It was also the day when Sarah Palin’s unbelievably bad interview with Couric started airing on TV.

Make no mistake, unless something spectacular happens for him in the debates, or a devastating event, like a terrorist attack on US soil takes place, John McCain threw away his shot at the presidency yesterday.

For more evidence, check out the amazing videos below:

First, Palin’s interview. It is, by turns, depressing, hilarious, embarassing and ends on a surreal note.

Next, watch Dave Letterman eviscerate McCain. It’s funny and truthful. The ultimate salt on the wound is at the very end, when he uses CBS’ in-house cameras to expose McCain as a liar, who cancelled his show with Letterman citing the need to rush to Washington, but ended up rushing to Ann Couric to give an interview.

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Conservative columnist George Will is bang on the money:

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.” . . .

In any case, McCain’s smear — that Cox “betrayed the public’s trust” — is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are “corrupt” or “betray the public’s trust,” two categories that seem to be exhaustive — there are no other people. McCain’s Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law’s restrictions on campaigning. Today, his campaign is creatively finding interstices in laws intended to restrict campaign giving and spending. . . .

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

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