I think the November election is still wide open.Well, I'm a lot stupider than him, and I predict Obama's got a 90% chance of being the 44th President of the United States.
It mostly comes down to this: Obama and his team are much, much smarter about the nitty-gritty of politics than the Gore or Kerry campaigns ever were. The mistakes and missteps he's made so far this year have been relatively minor. Some bloggers and commentators would have you believe his campaign's been a gaffe machine since March, but I just don't see it.
I'm also encouraged that he's showing every sign of putting the GOP on defensive in states like Virginia and North Carolina, which were supposed to be safe GOP locks.
That said, I'm worried about what will almost inevitably happen when Obama's core of True Believers figures out sometime in 2009 that the man's not perfect, and that the President of the United States inevitably has to make compromises.
It's almost inevitable that a newly elected President is going to suffer a catastrophic drop in popularity in his first year, particularly one who was elected as representing a New Generation or a New Kind of Politics. About the only sure way to avoid it is for some Massive Unanticipated Event to come along and change all the rules, which is how George W. Bush managed to end his first year in office more popular than when he started it.
Massive Unanticipated Events tend to be bad news. I'm going to hope one doesn't happen.
I guess this is the same kind of thinking that gave rise to the meme that's going around GOP-Bloggerland right now that an Obama Presidency will be reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's, in all the worst ways.
But now I want to make another prediction, one which is somewhat out-there but might make me look like a genius in eight and a half years:
Barack Obama will be a two-term President, but he'll do it Grover Cleveland-style. His first term will leave a lot of his base unhappy, and he will lose the 2012 election to some Republican. After a year or two of Republican rule, some remorseful Dems will begin thinking "That Barack guy, he wasn't so bad after all". And he'll be term-limited this time, so you know he'll be an actual leader rather than some dope just worrying about his own re-election. So Obama is renominated in 2016 and wins the Presidency.
(And just to make all the Obama-haters' hair stand on end: Even in this scenario, when Obama retires from the Presidency for good in 2021 he'll still be only sixty years old. Not too old for a Supreme Court appointment...)