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Senator Barack Obama speaks during a rally at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Barack Obama's investment in Virginia paying off
Another poll has Obama edging ahead in Virginia. Rasmussen gives him a three point lead. Last week it was five. That's still within the margin of error and that could be a bigger margin than usual. It could go either way. And that's the point. It's Virginia. It's supposed to go one way: Republican. That's what it's done for 44 years. It's the only Southern state Jimmy Carter couldn't win. Yet Pollster.com has them running exactly even; Electoral-vote.com has it leaning Democrat. FiveThirtyEight.com gives Obama a 78% chance of taking it.
Small town in a swing-state election
During the last presidential election, I spent a month driving from John Kerry's home in Boston to George Bush's childhood home in Midland, Texas, stopping en route to report from the swing states. It was a fascinating, beautiful journey that brought me in contact with a broad range of Americana.
Virginia voices
Why Roanoke?
During the last presidential election I drove from John Kerry's home in Boston to Bush's childhood home in Midland, Texas over a month, stopping en route to report from the swing states. It was a fascinating, beautiful journey that brought me in contact with a broad range of Americana, from an evangelical family in rural Pennsylvania who had lost their son in the Iraq war to a drag queen in small town Missouri who had campaigned against the ban on gay marriage.
America has a terrible headache, but it seems like no one wants to cure it
There is common sense; and there is good sense. Common sense represents the received wisdom of years and the widespread opinion of the day. It may be rooted in fact, fiction, rumour or reality. On one level it doesn't matter. So long as it is commonly held, then, in essence, common sense becomes a fact of life.
Presidential debates are just theatre
Younge America: Presidential debates are just theatre
Appearing intellectual or professorial is a handicap to candidates, says Gary Younge
Younge America: Don't get wedged off Obama
Gay marriage has been a wedge issue in recent elections. Gary Younge hopes Obama's race doesn't make him the wedge candidate
Don't get wedged off Obama


The Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, addresses a rally in Metropolitan park, Jacksonville, Florida. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Obama makes move into the conservative South
From his office in the former capital of the confederacy, the mayor of Richmond, Doug Wilder, is relishing Virginia's moment in the presidential sun. On that very morning Barack Obama was campaigning in the military town of Norfolk in the south-east of the state while the Republican hopeful, John McCain, appeared with Sarah Palin in front of the biggest crowd he had yet seen in Fairfax, to the north.
Younge America: Why isn't Obama a clear favourite?
In the first of a videoblog series, Gary Younge explains how the shadow of Katrina still looms over the presidential election.
Why isn't Obama a clear favourite?
Doug Wilder: 'The majority of Americans are not racist'
Barack is playing the incognegro, but it is not a risk-free strategy
Doug Wilder, 77, still meets people who wanted to vote for him when he stood for governor of Virginia back in 1989 but found they just could not do it. They said they would. They even thought they would. But when it came down to it, they just could not vote for a black man. "I've had people who tell me 'I didn't vote for you for lieutenant governor or governor. I wish I had that chance again'," he says.
For whom the poll tells
Maybe Republicans are right. Maybe liberals aren't constitutionally cut out to be commander-in-chief. Not constitution as in 1787, but constitution as in backbone and gut-check. Panic, it seems, is their natural state. And so it is that every time John McCain lands some good polling numbers they freak out and start talking about leaving for Canada.
Sarah Palin’s Shotgun Politics
Let’s hear it for Bristol Palin. The pregnant 17-year-old daughter of John McCain’s vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, is going to have her baby and marry her beau, Levi Johnston. That’s a brave move, and she deserves all the support she can get. It looks like she’ll need it. Her 18-year-old husband-to-be describes himself as a "fuckin’ redneck." His MySpace page (which has since been taken down) said he is in a relationship and doesn’t want kids. Bristol’s mom and dad, we are told, are delighted. We know because they issued a statement. "We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents." Good for them. Now they would like us to talk about something else. "We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy," they said. Not so fast.
Those who are tasked to police this democracy are blinded by confetti
'Some nations have a gift for ceremonial," wrote the future third Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Robert Cecil, after watching Queen Victoria open parliament. "No poverty of means or absence of splendour inhibits them from making any pageant in which they take part both real and impressive. Everybody falls naturally into his proper place, throws himself without effort into the spirit of the little drama he is enacting and instinctively represses all appearance of constraint or distracted attention."
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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