With Election Day five weeks away, here is the state of the game in the presidential race:
* Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey is more qualified to face Joe Biden in Thursday's vice-presidential debate than Sarah Palin.
* Some six percent of voters tell pollsters that they will not vote for Obama because of his skin color, but the number probably is higher.
* John McCain needs a game changer but has painted himself into a very tight corner because he continues to run a campaign that is based on tactics and not substance.
* Absent televised coverage a Bristol Palin shotgun wedding or some other notable distraction, Barack Obama will begin scoring double-digit leads in the national polls.
* The collapsing economy is being credited with Obama's widening lead, but it has as much or more to do with McCain's foundering campaign.
* Neither candidate has really stepped up to the plate during the ongoing economic crisis.
* If it works for John McCain, then why not us? That seems to be what Obama is saying as his TV ads also take liberties with the truth.
* Hillary who?
* Unsurprisingly, Obama is turning out to be far more hawkish on foreign-policy issues than was during the primary season.
* McCain's impulsiveness and penchant for gambling keeps backfiring on him, most notably with the unvetted Palin and his suspended-campaign theatrics. Will he continue to roll the dice?
* While Obama seems to be firmly in control of his campaign and its message, McCain seems anything but.
* McCain's gibberish quotient has always been on the high side, but he seems to make less sense with every passing day when not reading from a Teleprompter. Example: "I am for keeping taxes low. I am for whatever steps we think we need to be taking right now."
* Obama hasn't been successful in linking McCain to George Bush, while McCain hasn't been successful in arguing that he isn't attached at the hip with the deeply unpopular president.
* McCain cannot win a protracted war with the news media. Palin cannot continue to hide from the news media.
* Obama's coattails are proving to be considerable longer than McCain's.
* The most effective McCain-Republican meme has been that Obama lacks experience. But that has been brilliantly undercut by . . . you guessed it, Palin.