And the next US President will be ...
If you've read anything at all following the Democratic party primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, you will know that the universal consensus among the punditocracy is that Barack Obama is now all but assured of his party's nomination.
But if you've been paying close attention to my occasional US Election Survival Guides, you may just recall that way back in February - which by the standards of this year's campaign, is equivalent to when dinosaurs roamed the earth - I predicted that the Democrats would win the presidential election in November.
So, if I'm going to stick to my guns, that must mean that I now expect Senator Obama to be the next President of the United States.
Here's why (and I confess my reasons have as much to do with my finely-honed political instincts as with any detailed numbers-based analysis):
1. The Iraq situation is not good, and may well be worse by November. That is not good news for Senator John McCain (nor for the Iraqis, of course), who has consistently backed the Bush administration's strategy.
2. After eight years with a Republican in the White House, I have a strong feeling that many American voters are ready for a change. That's not an easy sell for a 71-year-old Republican.
3. The Obama campaign has raised huge amounts of cash - and just as important, has acquired an enviable data-base of supporters, activists and voters. That will be invaluable as the election approaches.
4. Despite the internal divisions that inevitably emerged during the interminable Obama-Clinton primaries slug-fest, there is a grass-roots enthusiasm for Obama which McCain will find it hard to match.
5. Obama has improved immeasurably as a candidate over the past six months; McCain has had little to do since February. If they were boxers, you'd say Obama had simply done a lot more training.
6. And, oh happy coincidence, if, as everyone expects, Barack Obama does win the nomination, he will deliver his acceptance speech at the party convention in Denver on 28 August. Which just happens to be the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. Watch this space ...
And if you really want some numbers, of the last six published opinion polls, four suggest that Obama would beat McCain in November, although admittedly all but one of them showed his lead as being within the margin of error. (Five out of the six showed that Clinton would beat McCain too, but again, all within the margin of error. And as per above, a Clinton-McCain fight is now looking increasingly academic.)