As of October 28, one week before the election, Senator Obama seems to be ahead by at least 6 percentage points in the average of all polls (available on the web every day at www.RealClearPolitics.com ). He seems to be equally ahead in the state polls of all the top “battleground” states, the 7-10 that at one time seemed to be open to either candidate. It seems almost impossible for Obama to lose.
On the other hand, several polls that have been highly reliable in the past have moved quite close together in the last two days: for example, Gallup and Investors Business Daily (the most accurate poll in 2004). These show that among “likely” voters (which means more than “probable,” also “proven to be reliable in the past”), the gap has closed to 49-47 for Obama, which is within the margin of error.
During the primaries in his races against Hillary Clinton, Obama was nearly always much farther ahead in the polls, even when Senator Clinton came back to beat him decisively at the end. Virtually all the “undecideds” turned toward her in the end.
There is something soft about Senator Obama’s support. People do not trust him. There are too many areas of his past life which have been kept secret. All the hints about his past life that we do know of show that he comes from an extremely left-wing group of friends, who oppose in principle fundamental American ideas. Their idea of “change” is to make the American nation more redistributive and Euro-socialist. They have a certain contempt for the American founding, because it was too centered on individual effort and individual merit, and not sufficiently redistributive.
Obama also had very close friends who were former aides to Yasser Arafat and very anti-Israel. All this has been kept secret.
For all these reasons, I am not convinced that Obama will emerge the victor on the morning of November 5. Most people think he will win a landslide victory, as big as Ronald Reagan did in 1980 or 1984. The objective evidence seems to point in that direction. Realists anticipate that it will happen that way. The polls seem to be incontestably on their side.
Still, some polls are showing Obama ahead by 13 points nationally, others by only 2 percent. What could constitute the difference? Pollsters are making very different judgments about the actual nature of the electorate in 2008. Some assign the Democrats an unusual margin of superiority to Republicans, in the size of their sample. Some assign a larger number of votes to blacks this year than in past years. Some think the size of the under-25 age group (especially of university students) will be very large; others, based on past experience with such hopes, think it will only be normal. No poll is better than the size of its sample groups. If the poll consists of a thousand voters or less, even a mistake of 20 voters in this category or that can throw the whole thing off.
My own bias is strongly against Obama on such questions as abortion (he is the most extreme proponent of abortion in U.S. history), and the crucial importance for the poor and the middle class of a very active sector of enterprise and invention, which creates new industries and millions of new jobs (as did the inventions of the personal computer, cell phones, and electronic components for automobiles and other previously mechanical industries, under Ronald Reagan).
Obama confuses higher tax rates (he wants to raise nearly all of them, especially on entrepreneurs) and tax revenues. For example, when Reagan became president, tax rates on higher income groups were 70%. Reagan cut these rates substantially, to about 35%. But the revenues actually taken in by the government were far higher than ever before. The rich paid more dollars in taxes, in part because the percentage rate on each dollar earned was much lower. Reagan took away immense amounts from the rich, getting far more taxes from them than anyone had before.
One reason the U.S. stock market is going down, in the opinion of some, is that Obama has announced a doubling of the capital gains tax. In other words, instead of being taxed 15% on gains from investments, investors will be taxed under Obama by 30%. No wonder that intelligent investors are now rushing to sell the stocks they own. If they keep them to sell after Obama gets in, they will pay an extra 15% in taxes.
Obama does not seem to understand the art of using human incentives to get where he wants to get. He prefers to punish. In real life, that seldom works. Was it not St. Francis de Sales who told the parable of the harsh cold wind that tried to get a man to take off his cloak, but the man grasped it more tightly around him. Whereas when the gentle and warm sun began to shine, the man soon began to loosen his cloak, and even to take it off?
Finally, I worry greatly about Senator Obama’s naivete about the uses of power in this poor, sinful world. He reminds me of those opponents of St. Pius V in 1571, when the Pope virtually alone warned against the threat of a great Muslim fleet sailing upon Italy, while most of the sovereigns to the North preferred to see the Turks as trading partners rather than as deadly threats to their civilization. Only by the grace of God did Don Juan of Austria and his intrepid fleet avert civilizational disaster on October 7 of that year. (With a preemptive strike).
For my part, then, I judge that an Obama presidency will throw the United States into a foundational crisis concerning its own identity. His is not a “change” I can believe in.
But suppose I am wrong. Suppose that he wins. Then he will be my president, and I will support him. I do not believe in a system in which when the other party wins, the rest of us bend every effort to pull them downwards on the greasy pole. No, we must help them to succeed. For we get only one president at a time. It is important for all of us to pull together.
Besides, I will take much comfort from the look of pride in the faces of all my black friends, and in the faces of their children. An Obama victory will be of huge importance to them.
And if by chance Obama should actually lose on November 4, many black Americans (and the American left generally) will be unable to believe that the election was fair. Some will erupt in passionate anger. They never did forgive the two Bush victories in 2000 and 2004. Their fury at losing in 2008 will be almost indescribable.
The tragic flaw of the left is that their favorite, their most beautiful, ideas simply do not work in practice. Their vision of the world is Gnostic. That is to say, unreal, unable to cope with the sinful and limited nature of human beings. The left is unwise about the art of incentives, and how actually to get the limited best out of people, by not expecting from them too much virtue.
Of course, it may be too late for humanistic and biblical realism in this campaign. The media (ink and electronic) have been bewitched by the honeyed Obama gnosticism and unreality. They have never submitted his life and his character, let alone his radical ideas, to intelligent criticism. They are presenting to the public a Great Unknown.
The tragic flaw of Americans is a vulnerability to sentimentality and premature starry-eyed idealism.
Now we must trust that God will continue to bless America, despite our national weakness.
However, until I am forced to capitulate by unarguable vote totals, I will continue to hope that, once again, we shall be saved from ourselves, and blessed more than we deserve. We shall defeat Senator Obama, and elect a true and tested and very well informed President in Senator McCain.
Published October 30, 2008