I'm going to stick my neck out and make a last-minute election prediction: Kerry wins. Not by much in the popular vote, but by quite a bit in the electoral college.

I think there's a majority there to remove Bush, but the Republicans' campaign to define Kerry by his failings has worked to neutralise that. Wherever Kerry has been able to concentrate his efforts and make people see him in his own terms, rather than the way he's been described to them by the Bush campaign, he can tap into this majority.

That's why he's polling ahead across the battleground states, where he's spent time and money, and also why he caught up with Bush after the three televised debates when people could see (some for the first time) that he didn't have two heads and an 'IOsama' pin. It doesn't shift a lot of people, but it doesn't need to. Maybe 3% off Bush and onto him is a six-point swing, which seems to be the difference between the national polls and the battleground summaries.

Conversely, in the states where Kerry isn't spending time the Republican portrayal of him isn't being challenged. As a result, Bush is closing the gap. We hear that he's piling up votes in places like California and New York, where he can't possibly win. New Jersey, usually solidly Democratic, was back in play for a while. Hawaii has been for the last few days, and I suspect it will vote for Bush. If Kerry went to these places, and also ran some TV advertising, he could shore up his vote quite easily – but it would cost him the swing states where the election is won and lost.

The result of this, I suspect, is a relatively close finish in the popular vote, but a solid Kerry victory in the Electoral College. I can see Kerry winning almost all the swing states, and also picking off West Virginia, Colorado and Nevada, for the loss of only Hawaii and maybe one of Maine's votes. That would make it 325-213 Kerry in the college. But I reckon the actual vote total would be much, much closer than that. Which means, of course, that only a little shift on the day could flip half a dozen states and reverse the scores.

But that's my prediction: Kerry, handily in the college and narrowly in the total vote.


Over the last few days I've found my desire to write returning – but no time to actually indulge it. When I can, these are some of the subjects I might cover: running – Penny Dreadful coming back rejected – a new screenplay idea – some newly-purchased objects of desire (a Wagamama cookbook, Human League tickets) – Gladstone the ebullient chef – failure and ageing – losing weight.