Tags: obama | election | win

Are Democrats Overconfident?

By Susan Estrich   |   Friday, 31 Oct 2008 09:25 AM

It is time for this election to be over. It is time because it has been going on for what feels like a lifetime, because the final days have been full of noise and fury and very little light, and because we need to start solving problems rather than just debating them.

It is time because we all know how it should turn out and because thinking about what could happen if it doesn't is too upsetting.

Are Democrats in danger of being too confident? The short answer is no.

It's no because we've lost too many times when we were supposed to win. It's no because it's easier to convince people to go to a wedding than a funeral, to show up at a party instead of a wake. The California Democrats I've talked to, even the tired and cynical ones, are heading off to Colorado and Nevada and New Mexico, leaving nothing to chance, eager to be part of celebrations across the country.

And the truth is that no matter what the polls say — and they couldn't be much better — we're all still holding our breath.

We're holding our breath because as many times as we tell each other that with the economy the way it is, with the wrong track numbers the way they are, with consumer confidence as low as it is, race shouldn't matter, it really shouldn't matter enough in enough places to make every single poll wrong.

It shouldn't. It really shouldn't. Because, let's face it, God forbid if it does.

This is the unspoken what-if, the whispered fear.

It's not just that Barack Obama should win because he's ahead and the economy stinks and he's run a disciplined and well-financed campaign while John McCain struggled for a message and chose a running mate whose inability to answer easy questions has left women embarrassed and fuming. It's what it will say if he doesn't. And what will happen if he doesn't.

There is only one reason the polls could be this wrong. There is only one reason a contest that is not even close, that is somewhere between clobbered and landslide, could wind up with the other guy on top.

Every pollster in America is not incompetent. Every pollster in America is not failing in precisely the same way when it comes to pulling a sample, screening for voters ,and assigning weights to the various groups.

The only way all these polls could be that far off is if people are lying in numbers never before seen in American politics.

Why would they do that?

You tell me it has nothing to do with race. I'll laugh. What else could it possibly be?

It is too awful to think about, for reasons having nothing to do with what kind of president McCain would be and everything to do with what it would say about us, how we would see each other, the distrust and the anger that it would unleash.

Obama could say all the calming words in the world — and I have no doubt he would — but it wouldn't matter.

It's time for this election to be over so we can stop worrying about what could go wrong and how bad things would be if it did. We need to think better of each other. After Tuesday, hopefully we will.

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