In just over a months time, Americans will go to the polls and elect their 44th President. Current polling has shown Obama pulling away after a short period of deadlock, with the dire state of the economy seeming to work in his favour.
The general consensus of opinion outside of America is in favour of Obama, but it will be in swing states such as Virginia, Ohio and Florida that the election will be decided.
John McCainâ€™s choice of the little-known Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his VP pick back in August threw a lot of people off guard. Palin seemed to appear from another planet, let alone from left field. The "Pit Bull with lipstick" shored up wavering evangelical voters and undoubtedly swung some women away from Obama and towards McCain.
It was cynical, but at first it appeared to work. The right in America had a new hero.
However, some of the sheen has begun to wear off. Palinâ€™s lack of foreign policy experience - she only travelled outside of America for the first time last year and thinks that Alaskaâ€™s proximity to Russia is a qualification of some knowledge of the country - and the Troopergate allegations have cast a shadow over the campaign.
If you were a betting man youâ€™d put your money on Barack Obama. But, let's say that McCain pulls off an unlikely victory (a debate gaffe or scandal could change everything).
At 72, he would be the oldest ever occupant of the White House. To put it rather crudely: heâ€™s old. He could die in office and that would mean that Sarah Palin would become President.
When you look at her views and life story, this thought should make you shudder.
While Social Conservatives have occupied the position before, Palinâ€™s views on social issues are pretty extreme. She is staunchly pro-life, even in cases of incest and rape. She believes in Creationism and thinks it should be taught in schools.
She is highly sceptical of global warming - going against the views of John McCain - despite all the evidence that supports the view that at least some of it is man made.
On foreign affairs, she is hawkish, and as Jaak mentioned in the News Conference yesterday morning, has threatened Russia with war. War with Russia would be an unmitigated catastrophe that would destabilise the world. It would be the last thing we would need at a time of financial turmoil.
Asked in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News what she reads to get an overview of world affairs, she replied: â€œUm, all of them.â€
While it may sound patronising, it is hard to see how being governor of Alaska can prepare you for national office. The Republicans have jibed at Obama that the position of president doesnâ€™t allow for "on the job training", but the same can apply for Palin, who has only two years experience in national office.
Tim made a very good point in yesterday morningâ€™s News Conference about political ideology and parties. It is important not to demonise and hold prejudices against an ideology because you believe it is wrong, as you wont ask the right questions as a journalist.
But I just cant see the thought of Palin in the White House as being anything other than frightening.
Many people in this country may think that the US election doesnâ€™t matter to them, and some question the prominence newspapers such as the Guardian give to the race. But the position of US President is the most powerful in the free world and who gets elected in November is worth considering as each candidate would have a very different effect on the world if they won.
In the case of McCain, there could be a very scary looking Pit Bull waiting in the wings.