In the history of this country, there is one election, Truman vs. Dewey, where the underdog truly became the come-back-kid. By that election day, the final Gallup polling had Dewey 5 full points ahead of Truman. The whole country thought that Truman was doomed to lose. In fact, one of the most famous pictures in political history is Truman holding a copy of the "Chicago Daily Tribune" that was erroneously published and declares: "Dewey Defeats Truman" (Click to see this historical Associated Press photo).
Early last week, John McCain aptly declared himself the underdog. Certainly, the polls reflect that fact with Barack Obama leading by as much as 14 points, nationally. Some projected Electoral Map calculations show Obama with over 300 electoralvotes, with only 270 needed to win. Even I, just a couple of weeks ago, said that this economic disaster may have given Obama the win.
However, there is a possibility that John McCain, like Truman, may win this.
The Obama campaign has targeted the "youth" voters from day one. But, the younger voter is the most historically unpredictable. If Obama has a significant lead, these less dedicated "youths" might just skip going to the polls. If enough think that way, it could swing this in John McCain's direction. Actually, some might not go to the polls no matter what is happening in the polling.
Through the most recent polling results, we know that the "undecided" voters are between 7 and 16 percent; depending on the polling source you look at. If, for some reason, John McCain can sway those votes in the final hours, it could spell a win. Usually, though, this group of voters tends to follow the general polling. But, there are so many open issues about Obama and his past that the undecided's might not feel comfortable with that uncertainty. Some might not be comfortable with "completely" turning over all of the reins of government to the Democrats. Others might be concerned about the effects of being too liberal in an economic crisis. A two or three percent swing of the undecideds McCain's way could really change the results of this election. It should be noted that independents have been somewhat moving away from Obama in the last few days.
Then, of course, there is the possibility of the Bradley Effect. Basically, this is a documented trend by voters saying in polls that they will vote for the black candidate and, then, vote to the contrary when pulling the lever in the hidden confines of the voting booth. The "effect" is generally believed to have resulted from whites not wanting to look like racists when directly confronted by a pollster. Ironically, it can also be some blacks that don't want to appear to be voting against a black person because they might look like an "Uncle Tom". Historians have documented this effect to be as much as 6 percent. If Obama has less than a 6 percent lead over McCain, and this "effect" actually happens, McCain could pull this off.
This election, more than any other, has people looking at one candidate because of his "promises" rather than his past actions. This election has also become a media driven election for a variety of reasons that include making history. However, what happens in the privacy of the voting booth might not be what the polls are saying. It might not be what our mainstream media wants to happen. While it is hard to imagine John McCain wining with such a completely weak outlook according to the Electoral Maps, there is always the possibility of a repeat of the Dewey/Truman contest. But, who really knows? Even Obama, himself, expressed his concern over losing when he said "Don't Underestimate Our Ability to Screw it Up" (See Full Story). During the primaries, time after time, Hillary Clinton had substantially better performances on primary day against Barack Obama than the polls were saying. The same just might happen to Obama against McCain.
I just think this election may be the most interesting in our history, and if McCain does have a shot at winning, it could be a very, very, long night and a very, very, close election. If McCain does win, expect Obama's lawyers to be unleashed across this country like a massive herd of wild mustangs. This election could make Gore v. Bush look like legal amateur night in comparison to what could happen between McCain and Obama.