I knew nothing about Barack Obama until my wife brought him up following his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. She told me “I just saw a speech from a man that I think will be president some day.” After watching a few speeches by Obama, I concluded that she was on to something. He was a dynamic speaker, and inspired people in a way that few politicans do. So I am sticking with the prediction I made when Hillary Clinton was still the favorite to win the Democratic nomination: Tomorrow Senator Obama will win the presidency. Further, I predict that it won’t be close; that Obama will have well over 300 electoral votes and will probably beat Senator McCain by more than 100 electoral votes.
Obama ran a brilliant campaign, but he also received an assist because McCain ran a disastrous campaign. He vacillated on issues (I documented his ethanol flip-flopping here) and as I predicted the Palin choice turned out to be a big mistake (a new CNN poll confirms that). While the pick may have solidified the base (the people who were going to vote McCain anyway), it drove away lots of undecideds and Independents who felt like the choice was purely political, and not in the best interests of the country. And finally, McCain is of course campaigning to succeed a deeply unpopular incumbent from his own party.
My hope is that Obama will surround himself with people who are knowledgeable about energy policy. He has been reaching out behind the scenes to energy companies (and I am amazed that this hasn’t gotten press coverage), so I am hopeful that he will be pragmatic, and not let the more extreme elements of the party drive his energy policy. His campaign decisions appear to me to be well thought out, so I hope some of his campaign rhetoric doesn’t translate into actual policy.
I have a number of ideas/stories in the pipeline, but (presuming Obama wins) I will probably spend some time discussing the implications of his energy policies. Feel free to use the comments following this post to discuss them as well. What is good about his energy policy? Where is he wrong? Where are the big holes in the policy? (More on Obama’s energy policy ideas here).
Finally, how about my vote? I might have voted for McCain in 2000, when I felt he ran an honorable campaign. I was far too disgusted by his 2008 campaign to vote for him this year. I didn’t feel like he showed good leadership, but then his Palin pick was the final nail in the coffin for me.
I think Obama is a very likable person, and an inspirational speaker. Every time I tried to talk myself into voting for him, I kept coming back to his energy policy. I can’t embrace his energy policy, and that is one of the most important issues for me. But it ultimately didn’t matter. Because of the changes in my residency (in the past year I have lived in Montana, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Texas), my voting status was in flux. I also didn’t have a whole lot of time to resolve the issue. When I finally got serious about it, the deadline for registration in Texas had passed. So, I will end up voting for neither candidate, which is probably just as well since I couldn’t really get fully on board for either candidate.
Best of luck to (presumably) President-elect Obama. He is going to preside over a difficult four years. (And if I am wrong, this post will document the biggest prediction miss I have ever made).