This is the most important election of my lifetime.
What happens tonight in America will reverberate around the world for decades. And have huge consequences for all of us, everywhere. Will America slip backwards for more of the same? Or will it embrace change and become the leader we so desperately want it to be?
It has been the most exciting General Election campaign of my life so far. I remember when no-one, other than my dad and I, had even heard of Barack Obama – but we have followed his progress from the start. And tonight we will be watching from the US Embassy in London as the results come in.
I will be looking, in particular at three states: Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Virginia used to be the most important state in the union. All the early Presidents came from there. It has not been Democratic though for decades. Republicans have dominated state and national elections.
Tonight it could all be different. The demographics of Virginia have changed. It is younger, richer, more liberal than ever before and there is a large chance Obama will take it. Results for this state should be in by midnight our time. If Obama wins it, I think he is on course for a landslide.
Ohio is the stereotypical bellwether state. In the election of 1828 when Andrew Jackson became President, it was a fiercely fought, close contest even then. The polls show Obama is ahead but I think things are finely balanced. If Obama wins this state he will be President.
Pennsylvania is a real fight. The polls show Obama leading here, but each campaign says things are much closer. In the last two weeks, both candidates have traversed the state up and down. In the primary campaign, Obama struggled to win over white, working class voters. But over the last few weeks, as the economic crisis has deepened, he has really connected with them, while McCain’s efforts have been lacklustre. If McCain wins this state, it will be a major setback for Obama and probably create a frisson of nervousness in every Obama supporter’s living room. However, if Obama wins he will be President.
All of these results should be in by 3am our time. I predict turnout will be huge – particularly amongst African American voters in places like Georgia and North Carolina.
And they will be voting for a candidate who offers real change and real hope.
I do not just support him because he is an eloquent, brilliant speaker, nor because he is ferociously bright – he is all of those things by the way - but because he offers a real antidote to the cynicism and spin we have come to associate the Bush Presidency with.
He is authentic. He speaks with passion and conviction. He appeals to our better natures.
He is inspirational yet thoughtful – capable of making momentous decisions and let’s not forget he has an awful lot in his in-tray when he enters the Oval Office.
His campaign has tested him and proved his metal. He grew up through the hard knocks school of Chicago politics. He had the Clintons and the Republicans throw everything at him, but he remained cool and measured and determined. Important qualities which make him fit for the White House.
His election would truly be transformational and have huge symbolic value for African Americans living in the States who still remember what it was like to grow up under segregation.
In one important way though, his election would also prove an age old truth: The politics of change and hope will always triumph over the politics of fear.
Come on Barack!