Whisper it: Obama may lose

THE most important election in the world burst dramatically alight last week when Barack Obama gave his much-anticipated presidential nomination acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention. The expected oratorical skills were there, but so was policy detail – on abortion, on oil dependence, health, education and pensions – designed to silence criticism that he is politics-lite.

But, in a fascinating piece of political theatre, within just a few hours the Republicans had dragged the spotlight back to John McCain. His presentation of the 'hockey mom' Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate was cleverly designed to inject some youth and enthusiasm into the Republican ticket, together with a reminder to Hillary Clinton supporters that McCain, for one, was happy to put a woman in the White House.

In one day we therefore had a snapshot of this vital contest. This newspaper, in line with most European onlookers, believes Obama should take over from George Bush. Only he promises real change after eight traumatic years. But we will not decide the outcome of this election.

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The Republican election machine is fully behind McCain, while the Clinton/Obama divide has been papered over at best. McCain's bold choice of Palin, a rookie with a checkered history, may yet backfire. But the Obama bandwagon has a long and difficult route to negotiate if it is to reach 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Whisper it, but, for all the dazzling speeches and hope of change, Obama might not win.