The Obama-McCain X Factor—Racism—Means a Long Election Night Awaits

What role will race play in the 2008 presidential elections?

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Obamatons should be beaming, no? He's way up in the polls. Gallup's daily presidential tracking poll on Sunday had Barack Obama double digits ahead of John McCain among registered voters and well beyond the margin of error ahead of McCain among likely voters:

Barack Obama again leads John McCain nationally by 10 percentage points among all registered voters, 52% to 42%. His advantage narrows to either 7 or 3 points among likely voters, depending on how that group is defined.

That said, one Democratic member of Congress on Friday and one major Obama fundraiser both told me they're worried. Why? The member of Congress referred to the so-called X factor, or code for racism.

The member also said Obama should be further ahead among likely voters at this point in the race (with some two weeks to go), and this person worries about GOTV, or getting out the vote, and efforts to get young voters and voters of color to the polls. There are further concerns: long lines at the polls, lost ballots, and broken voting machines.

"Do you really think McCain can beat him?" I asked. "No, I think we'll win," came the response, "but it's going to be a nail-biter, and it's going to be a long, long night."

So get your rest, political junkies, between now and November 4, because it could be an all-nighter that night. Or even longer....