Spectators still glued to the long haul of US presidential politics will have noticed a less than subtle shift in sentiment and expectation since the arrival of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket. The McCain candidacy has bounced, the once apparently unstoppable Obama steamroller has faltered and will need to regroup. It would seem that the evidence presented by the two party conventions — score Republicans two, Democrats one —  has been enough to nudge certain among American opinion leaders to a decision. This is code for Rupert Murdoch, and it was in the editorial columns of the New York Post overnight that the world’s most influential Australian declared his hand.

The Post today enthusiastically urges the election of Sen. John S. McCain as the 44th president of the United States. McCain’s lifelong record of service to America, his battle-tested courage, unshakeable devotion to principle and clear grasp of the dangers and opportunities now facing the nation stand in dramatic contrast to the tissue-paper-thin résumé of his Democratic opponent, freshman Sen. Barack Obama.

There you have it. The move is significant … the first declaration from a major US paper, and one that has the added impact of clearly signalling Murdoch’s choice. How do we know this? Well we can only assume. That said, Murdoch confessed to the extent of his editorial influence back in May when the same paper surprisingly endorsed Obama over Clinton in the heated race for the Democrat nomination. As Reuters reported at the time:

News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months. Murdoch has yet to endorse a U.S. presidential candidate but considers Barack Obama very promising, the media magnate said in an interview by two Wall Street Journal reporters at an annual conference for high-tech industry insiders.

Murdoch went on to make an interesting admission, confessing, Reuters said, that ”he had played a role in the endorsement by the New York Post, one of his global stable of papers, in endorsing Obama during the Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton in New York”.

Things have changed.