October 31, 2008

55,468,000 seconds later…

Posted by at 11:20 am in News | Permalink

With only a few days left before America wakes up at 5 AM, trudges to the polls, waits in the cold, and picks its next President, I thought it'd be fun and educational to take a look back at the twists and turns this campaign has taken. It's been 21 months (642 days) (15,408 hours) (55,468,000 seconds) since the race "officially" started, with Hillary Clinton (remember her?) kicking off her election campaign. Pretty much every day since then, it seems, we've been flooded with coverage on TV, radio, the Internet, and newspapers. I, for one, remember saying – more than once – that I was sick of the whole thing and wished they'd just get it over with. At certain points (early this summer, for example) it really seemed like Nov. 4 would never come. But here we are, and looking back on it, those 55 million seconds kinda flew by, huh?

At the moment, most news organizations give Barack Obama strong lead over John McCain. The Scholastic News kids' poll – historically, a pretty accurate predictor of who will win the real election – also has Barack pulling off an easy win.

Why?

There are three main reasons that most people think Obama will probably be our next President:

1. It's a really bad time to be a Republican. According to a New York Times poll (PDF), 89% of Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction, and they blame that on the party in power: the Republicans, also known as the GOP. And CBS points out that Obama is trying to tie John McCain to George Bush and the Republicans. So even though John McCain has tried to distance himself from George Bush, the simple fact that he's a Republican makes winning the race harder to begin with. Imagine that Obama is running on a nice dirt track in a pair of Nikes, and McCain is running underwater, and you'll have an idea of what they mean.

2. The economy is the #1 issue on voters' minds. The economy is doing really badly, and a lot of people are in serious trouble. Some people are losing their jobs, others are losing their homes, and many more are going into debt (borrowing money that they have to pay back later) just to buy basic things like food, electricity, gas, and housing. Most voters think that fixing the economy is the most important challenge the next president will face, and they seem to trust Obama more than McCain to do so.

3. Obama has a very powerful campaign. A candidate's "campaign" consists of all the people, money, ads, and events that he or she uses to get elected. For whatever reason, people have always been more excited about Barack Obama – political analysts call this the "enthusiasm gap" – and most analysts think that this is responsible for the many volunteers and piles of money he's now enjoying. Political scholars agree that a powerful campaign gives a candidate a big advantage right off the bat.

There's a lot more, of course, but those are the three big reasons that most people point to when predicting that the election will go in Barack's favor. We'll see whether or not they're right in a few days!

So let's see how this all started…

On February 10, 2007, in Springfield, Illinois, Barack Obama announced that he was running for president:

A few months later, John McCain did the same thing:

(Notice the difference in the crowds? Notice how Barack's is huge, enthusiastic, young, and diverse? How McCain's is smaller, subdued, and mostly white? That's what reporters mean when they talk about the "enthusiasm gap.")

On June 7, Hillary Clinton dropped out, leaving the race to Senators Obama and McCain:

And a few days ago, John and Barack met for their final debate:

After watching the debate, and seeing these two candidates battle for so many months – who are you supporting? Who should win, and who will?

—Jack L, STACKS Staffer