Prediction time

Okay, here's my prediction: I have believed all throughout this campaign, and still do, that if Barack Obama goes into the final weekend leading by less than 5%, he's finished. According to this week's reputable polls (Gallup, Rasmussen, and IBD/TIPP, not the ones comprised of 98% Democrats and 2% "Republican-leaning"), Obama is now only 2-3 points ahead of McCain. So I'm calling it for Mac.

What am I, delusive? A compulsive contrarian? One of those "mavericks" you read about in the papers? All the above - but bear with me. In a normal presidential campaign, a lead of 2-3% this late in the day would be insuperable. In 2004, George W. Bush remained steadily ahead of the guy with the hat by 1.5 to 2 points throughout the summer, just below his final winning count of 51% to 48%.

But this is not a normal campaign, nor is Barack Obama a normal candidate. He's a man who has slipped in by an accident of history, as being the candidate who was not Hillary. Since then, his campaign has been kept on top in large part by slippery financing and a supine media. But none of that can change what a man is. And Obama is -- to speak plainly -- a security risk, incredibly ignorant and inexperienced, and as I wrote on this site only recently, a flake. All of those factors have been catching up with him in recent days.

Consider the events of the past few weeks. The ACORN follies, in which the Obama campaign's paid auxiliary has been found to be carrying out vote fraud on a no less than continental scale, with cooperation from Democratic Party hacks. The videotape of the Messiah praising various terrorists that no one is going to be allowed to see. (In large part, according to internal sources, because of Obama's disparagement of Israel during the festivities.) Joe Biden's endless string of gaffes, which seem to emerge from some deep reservoir of hostility to his running mate. And above all, Obama's own mouth, best exemplified in his "share the wealth" exchange with Joe Wurzelbacher, in which he crippled himself in the worst way conceivable. (Particularly since there exists yet another tape from 2001 of Obama mouthing the same undergrad Marxism -- in addition to criticizing the Founders for not being as smart as he is.)

If that wasn't enough, we have the persecution -- that's not too strong a word -- of Joe Wurzelbacher by both the media and government officials, with his supposedly "private" records being rifled by Democrats. It's hard to imagine a more effective vote-getter than the sight of an everyday working man being hounded by the elite.

Obama's race would not matter an iota in millennial American society were it not for these other factors. But the Kennedyesque Obama of early summer has vanished, leaving a strange composite figure with too much unexplained, if not inexplicable. Obama's blackness only underlines this in the eyes of some Americans, rendering him a puzzling and vaguely threatening figure. If the Bradley effect does kick in, this can only amplify it.

The McCain campaign has been using this ammunition (excepting race) with a finesse and energy seldom witnessed in recent years. McCain, along with the irreplaceable Sarah Palin (can anybody imagine Mitt Romney playing this role?) have spent the past two weeks continually hammering away at the opposition's weak points with only ineffectual responses from the Obama campaign. Critics who have dismissed McCain's "inept" campaigning are invited to explain this. McCain simply saved his best shots for the end game, as he should have, rather than throwing them away earlier in the campaign. It may well work.

It may well work because it is beginning to tell on the Messiah. Polling reveals that Obama has not clinched the deal with the voting public. Polls show him now lagging at below 50% with unusually high levels of undecided voters. Dick Morris predicts that these undecideds will break for McCain, and that appears to be happening. Reports on early voting from places like Nevada seem to show that Obama's student and minority storm troopers, supposedly the first ripples of his electoral tsunami, simply aren't showing up. California exit polling suggests that as many Republicans are voting early as Democrats, in one of the most liberal states in the country.

All this points in one direction. Barring events (such as Obama's prime-time infomercial having a big impact) this election is beginning to turn. It is moving toward the white-haired guy from the olden times. So I'll happily stride out on that limb and state for the record: McCain wins. A simple three-letter word. W-I-N-S. Wins. You got that?