Barack Obama is a Strong Favourite to Win the Presidency

On the whole, I have a better record of forecasting American elections than British. Distance makes one see the developments more clearly. I certainly can claim to be one of the early birds in detecting the strength of the movement towards Barack Obama. I am not sure that those early forecasts are of any importance except to the columnist himself, but they do reassure the writer that he, or she, is in touch with some sort of political reality.

On January 28th I wrote a column for the London Times, which started with the question: “Has Barack Obama developed the “Big Mo”, vital momentum that would take him through to the Democratic nomination, very possibly to the Presidency.” I answered my opening question in the last paragraph “Youth, idealism, style are powerful political weapons. On February 5th, we shall see whether they have captivated America. If they do, we shall find that they have captivated Britain as well. Barack Obama could have a message for us all.”

After Super-Tuesday, I went a stage farther. My opening sentence surprised many of my London friends and readers. I wrote that “it is hard to see who can stop Barack Obama becoming the next President of the United States…. Barack Obama has the future of America ahead of him.”

At any rate he has been fully tested by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That had its own faults, and Bill’s interventions were usually disastrous, but we all came away with a new respect for Hillary’s resilience and endurance, even if many of us felt a great relief that she had lost. Now it is Obama versus McCain. Do I still feel that Obama is almost unstoppable, even though Hillary undoubtedly came closer to stopping him than I had expected?

There are of course inherent risks in being the first black candidate from a major party to be nominated for the Presidency. In 1968, the Vietnam primaries, Bobbie Kennedy, also a candidate of idealism, was assassinated. Separately from the primary struggle, so was Martin Luther King. Barack Obama is both black and idealist, a double challenge to the worst kind of American bigot. Everyone is aware of the risk, and nobody wants to talk about it.

There are other events which could change the ordinary pattern of political events, what the strategic study groups call “low probability, high impact events”. The classic low probability, high impact event was of course 9/11 itself. A crisis in the Middle East, or a terrorist attack on the U.S. itself could change the whole character of the Presidential debate.

However, these are not predictable events, they are merely conceivable possibilities. Outside those possibilities Senator Obama seems to me to be a very strong favourite to win the Presidency in November.

In the first place, he is the candidate of youth, idealism and change. Americans are tired of the Republican Presidency after two terms of George W. Bush. They are tired of the dynastic Presidency which proved a serious handicap to Senator Clinton. If she had won the Presidency that would have been the sixth successive term of the Bush or Clinton dynasties.

Senator McCain has much more experience of defence, and would be an impressive Commander-in-Chief, but he is already in his seventies – he is not a symbol of domestic renewal, because of his age. If the campaign concentrates on the recent Republican record, McCain will be hurt by that; if it concentrates on domestic issues, McCain is less attractive than Obama to the young and radical.

I still see Senator Obama as the candidate of change and vision. That was the appeal of John F. Kennedy. If America is tired of Washington cynicism, Obama is the Kennedy of the present generation.

William Rees-Mogg
Markets and Money

William Rees-Mogg
Leading political editor William Rees-Mogg is former editor-in-chief for The Times and a member of the House of Lords. He has been credited with accurately forecasting glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall – as well as the 1987 crash. His political commentary appears in The Times every Monday. His financial insights can only be found in the Fleet Street Letter, the UK's longest-running investment newsletter.

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15 Comments on "Barack Obama is a Strong Favourite to Win the Presidency"

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Greg Sola
There is no way Obama can win in the general election. Since the revelations came out concerning his wife’s and his pastor’s comments regarding America, he’s toast. He has lost by wide margins in almost every primary since that time. Most of his delegate strength was amassed before those revelations came out. Also know this; the Clinton’s aren’t through yet. Make no mistake, they have a dirty trick or two up their sleeves. If they are unable to derail his apparent nomination or to weasel into the VP slot, they’ll campaign against him (secretively of course) in the general election… Read more »
Smack MacDougal
What makes it so that there is “no way”? On the Mechanics ================ A Presidential Election is not one monolithic race, but at least 50. Since some states allow for splitting of their Electoral College electors, there are more than 50 races, more than 50 campaigns. A candidate need only secure 270 of the 538 electoral votes to win. Only 60% of Voter Eligible Americans turned out in 2004. This was the highest amount since 1968 and only the third highest since 1958. The key to winning is finding out where the most of those 60% live in relation to… Read more »
smack i read your contributions with interest and i often have to read them twice! i hope you are right because the usa has dragged the whole western world into a war without end it took 40-50 years for the uk to resolve its active conflict with the ira and the bitterness lives on, i view america dimly as a whole i have to say, bearing in mind the lowest common denominator principle, i cant see it, i had to laugh when i saw who the democrats were putting up for election a woman and a coloured man, i thought… Read more »

The economy will be in a lot of trouble with Obama at the wheel.


I don’t understand how McCain could beat Obama. Based on what? he’s old, forgetful, not the same McCain people once knew. He needs assistance and it shows.


Best thing that could happen to the US, keep going as they are and the empire will be lost, but we will see, American bigots are a dime a dozen.


Obama with his mixed Kenyan-Kansas heritage winning the elections will be America coming face to face with what is written in its constitution and living up to it. It will be history making in and of itself may scare a few bigots but to many it will underscore the greatness of the American ideal and cement that nation as a world empire for the next 500 years in the same way the diversity of phaoroahs and Emperors did the same with Egypt and Rome.

Obama’s recent comments sound more in-line with “racist” thinking than with the elligent pre-written verbage he feeds to the crowds. — Obama was caught in an uncharacteristic moment of loose language. Referring to working-class voters in old industrial towns decimated by job losses, the presidential hopeful said: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” — That combined with the racist comments taught to him by his pastor for 20 years will make voters think twice. His comments… Read more »
Leland Milton Goldblatt
Leland Milton Goldblatt
Obama, he speaks like Hitler I have this recurring nightmare of Farrakhan or Wright spending the night at the White House in the Lincoln bedroom. Or Barack Hussein Obama having a luncheon on the lawns with Hamas representatives, Ayers, Meeks and company. Lord help us. This life-long will also be pulling the lever for John McCain, a man who is actually proud of his country. We are judged by the company we keep. I have a very good picture of Barack Hussein Obama’s kind of change he wants to make. I can’t beleive that the Democrat party could want this… Read more »
Ben Langford

“We are judged by the company we keep”

And so it is that Americans are judged poorly as a whole, when close-minded people such as Leland Milton Goldblatt make ridiculous superficial comparisons and decry much-needed negotiations as “a luncheon on the lawn”.

Maybe it’s because I’m not American, but I cannot understand how someone “going through hell as a POW” affects in anyway their credentials as a President. Nor for that matter what their middle name happens to be.

The rest of the world outside America will be supporting Obama (if only we could vote!)

jack carpenter
Why must the British insist that they understand American government? This article shows at least one of them does not. The President is utterly powerless when the Congress is of one or two minds and keeps it wits in making policy. For example, After the Democrat party (in 2008)takes the Congress by comfortable margins the real fight and eventual tear down starts. Mr. Obama will be a spectator, like the rest of us, as the US Congress proceeds to finish the nation off as a state in world affairs. It will be a race to see which house can do… Read more »
Who really gives a hairy rats a**e what happens in the “Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free”? Hillary, Barack or John? Black, white, man or woman? Does it really matter? Are any of these presidential candidates going to correct the two biggest lies the world is currently being fed? I don’t think so. Lie no 1 – The firmly entrenched myth of the US Federal Reserve Bank and the concept known as “Fractional Reserve Banking”. Ever come across this quote? “Permit me to issue and control the money of the nation and I care not who… Read more »
Leland Milton Goldblatt, PhD
Leland Milton Goldblatt, PhD
Barack Obama is a blatant, unapologetic, LIAR. And when asked to explain new statements that are in direct conflict with his other statements, he looks the public right in the eye and claims that they “just haven’t’ been listening”, despite clear and presentable evidence to the country. The number and magnitude of his lies – particularly most recently as he veers his Escalade to the center of the road – is alarming. On issues such as FISA, Democrats (whether they are among his supporters or not) are fuming! FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP, for the love of god, is there any… Read more »
Moe Hong

He’s flip-flopped almost, but not quite, as much as McCain has (on the important things: torture, campaign finance, healthcare, abortion, the war, etc.).

Mr. Goldblatt, are you sure you’re not talking about Mr. McCain’s Escalade? He owns two.

pedro mohr

Obama is getting to be known as one who never ever qualified as candidate so another elction for him will blow away any respect I have for American voting system.Their minds are no doubt useless due to fluoridationIt is not pure=it also contains arsenic and lead..

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