Column: One simple way to predict a victor

One cannot help but be struck by the current disconnection in US presidential politics between, on one hand, the excitement and enthusiasm that attend Barack Obama’s candidacy and, on the other, the tightness of the race according to recent polls. The first suggests a sweeping victory for the Democrat in November, the second a close election and the distinct possibility of a win for John McCain.

Most would agree that Senator Obama has so far waged a polished and efficient campaign. He stumbles occasionally. His endless iterations on troop withdrawals from Iraq, for instance, have given Senator McCain a valuable opening. But he recovers quickly from his missteps and despite them projects an air of competence and assurance that belies his lack of experience.

Mr McCain, in contrast, has all the experience one could wish but little, these days, of the composure and gravitas that it is supposed to confer. When he trips up, the error seems to stick and he looks ridiculous. Mr Obama looks presidential. Mr McCain, sad to say, does not.

The remainder of this column can be read here. Please post comments below.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

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