While the last two presidential elections have been nail-biters, there's growing chatter even at a conservative think tank inside the beltway that this one is virtually decided—and Barack Obama will end up the winner.
"We're past the 85 percent mark in terms of the likelihood of an Obama victory," Norman Ornstein said today. The noted political analyst spoke during an election preview event at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank where he is a resident scholar.
He sounded a mild cautionary note, saying no matter what polling suggests. "Things can change and stuff happens and the potential exists for a dramatic event," Ornstein said. "But it's just hard to imagine a terrain more tilted in one direction than the one we have now."
Ornstein travels frequently—he was in Miami on Wednesday—and said anecdotal evidence in Florida and a host of other states show "absolutely striking" differences between the Obama and McCain organizations, including the critical area of early and absentee voting. He said, too, that it is "just astonishing" to see how much Democrats are outraising and outspending Republicans during this go-around at all levels.
Another panelist at AEI's election-watch session, senior fellow Karlyn Bowman, a polling expert, said she'll be probing after the election whether the contests signify a newly emerging Democratic majority or "a rejection, simply, of the status quo."
"Democrats are still winning the enthusiasm game, they're winning the money game, they won the recruitment game in terms of congressional and senatorial contests, and now have the advantage on most issues, particularly the economy, the top issue most Americans care about," Bowman said. "And they have a candidate [Obama] who more and more Americans feel good about."