Ever since Henry Kissinger’s announcement of a peace deal in Vietnam just before the 1972 presidential election, politicians have lived in fear of the infamous ‘October surprise’. For Democrats this year, that surprise arrived in spades with the first presidential debate in Denver, which saw a race that had been looking predictable thrown a ‘curve ball’.
In an article for Progress magazine, I’ve spoken to pollsters from both sides to throw caution to the wind and predict an Obama victory on November 6th. The reason that any doubt remains is the Barack Obama’s enigma: while he is undoubtedly the best public speaker of his generation, the president is not a natural populist. And that is a problem in a polarised nation where subtlety will struggle to win through.
The Zen-like calm he exuded in the primaries when 20 points behind Hillary Clinton freaks people out. And now, Obama’s style as president, while praised by academics as truer to the vision the founding fathers had of the office, has infuriated many on his own side with a real lack of ‘red meat’ politics.
But just as he triumphed over Hillary, Democrats will hope the October surprise has passed and, as the president is freed from the White House in the campaign’s closing days, voters will remember why they loved him the first time around and ensure that second Obama term progressives so desperately want.