US election diary

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Obama's lost vote

Lady Lynn Forrester de Rothschild, the wife of the British banking scion Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, close friend of the Blairs and a member of Hillary Clinton's inner circle is throwing her weight behind the McCain-Palin ticket. Obama is just arrogant, she explained and he cannot connect with average Americans. When the bluestocking, isn't adding her tuppenceworth on US politics, she flies between London and New York managing a $100m stash she made by flipping wireless broadband licences. Portfolio magazine calls her "sexy, charming, and dazzlingly well connected" and charts a meteoric rise from New Jersey roots to her current John Singer Sargent residence in Chelsea as well as Ascott House, the 3,200-acre Rothschild family estate in Buckinghamshire. But where she gets her insights into Obama is anyone's guess. Could it possibly be Hillary?

On the horizon...

Sarah Palin's foreign policy expertise comes, she has informed us, from looking across to Russia from Alaska. Now the McCain campaign is scrambling to get the vice-presidential candidate at least to shake hands with some foreign leaders. First stop the United Nations General Assembly in New York where heads of state from Robert Mugabe to the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will meet next week. Palin will attend an event sponsored by a coalition of Jewish groups, a constituency that is deeply wary of her fundamentalist Christian-inspired position on Israel. To the dismay of the media, Hillary Clinton has backed out of an anti-Iran protest next week after learning that Palin had been invited.

Nuisance callers

Obama has his own problems with the Jewish electorate. Many of these lifelong Democrats cannot bring themselves to support him and in swing states such as Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan "push polling" is being used to suggest that he is anti-Israel. The dark art of push polling became famous in the 2000 primary campaign when John McCain was the victim of suggestions planted in voters' minds by anonymous callers – posing as pollsters – that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. This time Obama is the victim, as The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn discovered when he answered the phone recently. After establishing that he was an Obama supporter, the "pollster" on the line asked if his views would be different if he knew such things about Obama as his "long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders in Chicago", or that "the leader of Hamas expressed his support for an Obama victory", or that "the church Barack Obama attends is known for its anti-Israel and anti-American remarks".