Egerton Chang, Contributor
I am an Obama man. Like most Jamaicans, I think. But he has me worried. Could it be that Obama has single-handedly snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory? With his debacle of a performance in the first presidential debate, was it a car wreck? Or was it just a pothole in the road?
When I was in my mid-20s, I was driving to Ocho Rios one Friday night with my first wife, Angela, and a friend of mine, Paul, and his girlfriend who were in the back seat. On reaching Moneague, with there being no oncoming traffic for a time and without really being conscious of where I was, I started to overtake. Blam! I had hit the unpainted dividing median with my left wheels, which were momentarily driving on the dirt filling.
I tried to get off the median by oversteering to the right, thus heading for a six feet high dirt wall on the opposite side of the road. I then turned back into my line of traffic, saw a space between two cars, went through it to the level dirt sidewalk and hit the brakes. The car spun around and stopped.
Shaken, I came out and inspected the car. Everything was OK except for a few broken eggs which were in a tray on the parcel shelf directly under the back windscreen. Paul came out, also looking at the car, and exclaimed, "Boy, that was a big pothole, eh?" To this day, I have never told him how close we were to being a car wreck.
So it is with Obama. How close his effort in that first debate was to a car wreck rather than a big pothole, only time will tell.
However, I don't have the benefit of time. Because this column was filed by October 18, some 20 days before the election date of November 6, I have to make my predictions now. Like it or not.
Already, some national polls are showing a statistical dead heat, a few even showing a slight/significant Romney lead, where, immediately before, the roles were reversed. One thing is for sure: The race is much closer.
Mitigating his abysmal performance have been three positives, the full effects of which are (at time of writing) to play out. First, the vice-presidential debate, where, by most accounts, Biden more than held his own. Second, the increasing number of signs that the United States US) economy is improving. This includes September's jobs report, which showed unemployment dipping below eight per cent, the first time since Obama took office, and the number of housing starts, which have reached a four-year high. Last, the second presidential debate, which was just held October 16, and which Obama won but barely.
A USA Today report written by David Jackson and titled 'Instant polls give Obama edge in second debate' states:
Instant polls gave President Obama the edge over Mitt Romney in Tuesday night's debate.
Respondents to a CNN poll favoured Obama by a 46 per cent to 39 per cent margin - though they also favoured Romney's responses on economic issues by 18 percentage points.
A CBS News/Knowledge networks poll of undecided voters who watched the debate found 37 per cent giving an advantage to Mr Obama, 30 per cent favouring Mitt Romney and 33 per cent calling the debate a tie. That represents a narrower lead for Mr Obama than Mr Romney had after the first debate in Denver, when a similar poll gave Mr Romney a 46-22 edge.
Two other polls gave Mr Obama a somewhat clearer advantage. A Battleground poll of likely voters in swing states who watched the debate had him winning 53-38.
An online poll by Google Consumer Surveys gave Mr Obama a 48 per cent to 31 per cent edge among registered voters.
A Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado voters who watched the debate found 48 per cent declaring Mr Obama the winner, and 44 per cent for Mr Romney. Mr Obama's advantage was clearer in the poll among independent voters, who gave him a 58-36 edge. However, the candidates were roughly tied when Public Policy Polling asked them how the debate swayed their vote, with 37 per cent saying the debate made them more likely to vote for Mr Obama, with 36 per cent for Mr Romney.
While these instant polls generally favour Obama as the winner of the second debate and may have stemmed the tide, the same article states: "The relationship between the quick-reaction polls and their eventual effect on the horse-race polls has historically been very modest, and has sometimes even run in the opposite direction of what the initial polls suggested."
To me, a Made-up Mythical Mitt as president would be a disaster. Even worse than President Bush. Especially for women.
My prediction is for a worst-case scenario of Obama 281, Romney 257, with Obama carrying Iowa (6), Minnesota (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10), while conceding Colorado (9), Florida (20), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13). My more likely scenario flips Virginia back to the Obama camp, making it a 294 to 244 race.
For the Senate, I predict the Democrats retaining control with a 52-46 split with two independents, while the Republicans keep the House with a 238-197 majority.
Returning from Ocho Rios, I decided to check for my brake marks at Moneague. I concluded from my observations, and on reflection, that while my reaction was reflexive and spontaneous, I was in (full?) control of the situation. When all is said and done, let's keep our fingers crossed that that would be Obama's view of the first debate.
PS. I was so caught up with the second presidential debate that I forgot to follow the Boyz-Antigua & Barbuda and US-Guatemala football matches. The brilliant Boyz won 4-1, and with help from the United States, who beat Guatemala, advance through to the next round. Big up to the Boyz!
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.