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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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Charles Krauthammer in October, 2006:

When just a week ago Barack Obama showed a bit of ankle and declared the mere possibility of his running for the presidency, the chattering classes swooned. Now that every columnist in the country has given him advice, here’s mine: He should run in ’08. He will lose in ’08.

And the loss will put him irrevocably on a path to the presidency. Obama’s political challenge is to turn his current fame and sizzle, which will undoubtedly dissipate, into something concrete. In physics, it’s the problem of converting kinetic energy into potential energy: Use the rocket fuel behind his current popularity to propel him to a higher national plane from which he would eventually move almost laterally to the presidency.

[…] In any circumstance, it is fairly audacious for any freshman senator to even think of the presidency. When freshman Sen. John F. Kennedy began his preparation for 1956, he was really seeking the vice presidency. And, unlike Obama, he had already served three terms in the House, which in turn had followed a celebrated military tour in the Pacific in World War II.

In 1956, Kennedy was preparing for a serious presidential run in 1960.

Obama should be thinking ahead as well — using ’08 to cure his problem of inexperience. Run for the Democratic nomination and lose. He only has to do reasonably well in the primaries to become such a compelling national figure as to be invited onto the ticket as vice presidential nominee.

[…] He’s a young man with a future. But the future recedes. He needs to run now. And lose. And win by losing.

Now that Krauthammer’s unlikeliest nightmare is about to come true, his columns contain less prediction and more valiant captainship.

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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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With all pollsters out with their own versions of what is going to happen in Indiana and North Carolina today, here’s my prediction:

Obama will win North Carolina by 12, Clinton will win Indiana by 7.

We will know the actual results in about ten hours.

Update: With about 99% of the votes counted, Obama is winning in North Carolina by 14, and Clinton is clinging on to a 2 point victory in Indiana. Yeah, I was a bit off. But I am not complaining!

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