With five days to go until the election, Obama is still leading in the polls, while John McCain looks to have been upstaged and stood-up by his favourite blue-collar pin-up boy, ‘Joe the Plumber’. Yes, the man who’s meant to epitomise middle America looks set to move up a tax bracket (for at least 15 minutes, anyway) with new PR representation and a potential country music recording contract.

Truly the American dream lives on. For more news on the Plumber — not to mention the Maverick, the Pitbull and the Socialist — plus all the breaking election news, polls, analysis and videos, visit our Campaign Crikey live news page and blog

Each day until the election, we’ll be taking a look at the media discourse around a particular election issue. Today we’re rounding up the pundits’ views on Obama’s multi-million dollar infomercial (watch it here). Was it worth the $US3-million?

Barack Obama really approved that message. All in all, if you’re the kind of voter who enjoys the feeling of a candidate speaking patiently and directly to you, this ad may have pulled you over to the Obama camp. The portions where he spoke about his family were certainly touching and human. But if you are the kind of voter who is worried Obama’s been a little bit presumptuous of late, we kind of doubt this changed your mind. — Daily Intel, New York magazine

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Obama’s infomercial night. After half-expecting to see Obama on a couch with Jessica Simpson and a bevy of skin-care products, the ad turned out to be a thoughtful, polished bit of television magic, a well-timed appeal to Americans desperate for some new direction during tough times. — Salon

Was Obama’s ad effective? After watching The One last night, I weepingly came to the conclusion that our country should change the national pastime from baseball to breastfeeding. Let’s all hold hands and sing “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and have a national group encounter session where we can share our pain with The One. — The Arena, Politico

Obama’s depressing infomercial. As his symbol of what used to be called the Forgotten Man, McCain has only Joe the Plumber. The Obama ad had, by my count, a wife with a disabled husband, a retiree cheated out of a corporate pension, an elderly couple facing high medical bills, a widow concerned with the education of her children, and a couple facing layoffs and cut-backs at a car factory. — Michael Lund, The Daily Beast

The infomercial. Now, that was an impressively effective commercial–understated, for the most part, and filed with evocative images. I had feared kitsch, but those fears proved to be unfounded. It was Reaganesque in its ability to combine anecdote and policy. — The Plank, The New Republic

A virtuoso performance. The fact that they could go 28 minutes in and hit live to a campaign rally in Florida and right down to the final Obama Biden logo that showed a rising sun. One of the things the campaign knows is that the most optimistic presidential candidate always wins. — George Stephanopoulos, ABC News

Here’s our daily pick of the best news commentary and analysis, as featured on the Campaign Crikey website:

The Economist endorses Obama. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. — Economist

The element of surprise. Barack Obama leads John McCain by a 52-percent-to-36 percent margin in Pew’s latest survey, and while uncertainties about the final outcome remain, Americans are no longer deadlocked over who’s going to win the election. Regardless of their own preferences, they pick Mr. Obama by a wide margin. — Campaign Stops, New York Times

Prediction: Democrats won’t get a filibuster-proof senate. If I had to bet $1,000 on each of these races, I would bet on Smith and Dole to lose, and Coleman, Chambliss, and McConnell to win. That, assuming Sununu doesn’t somehow pull it out, would leave the Democrats with 58 seats. Fifty-eight Democrats would be enough to stop filibusters if they can get a couple of Republicans (and not drop any Democrats) on an issue, but not enough to run the table. — Michael Barone, US News

McCain’s most successful campaign. McCain has done one thing more successfully than anything else since he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate – sold the narrative that the race will inevitably tighten for him, and that any result which shows a closer race is evidence of a trend, no matter how fleeting or random the result is. — Pandagon

Priorities for the new president. It was possible, in this rotisserie of naked self-promotion, to discern some larger themes. For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, the next President will face the prospect of neither peace nor prosperity — and there seems a consensus that, as much as Obama (or John McCain, for that matter) wants to play in the world, the financial crisis will demand most of his time and political capital. — Joe Klein, Time

Why white supremacists support Obama. In an informal Esquire survey, three out of four white supremacists prefer Obama, while McCain is the clear favorite among black nationalists. This is just one of many surprising views that emerged after we talked to extremists about this historic electoral showdown between a 46-year-old black man and a 71-year-old white man.Esquire

The latest election coverage on the Crikey blogs:

Joe: where the bloody hell are you? — Trevor Cook, Corporate Engagement

Send in the clowns, don’t bother they’re here — Chong Weng Ho, US election blog

Pennsylvania 0 0 0 0 0 – Palin goes rogue Guy Rundle Blog

The best clips from our US election video wrap — posted daily on the Crikey US election blog:

Letterman and O’Reilly on the VPs

Republicans “speechless” on Palin’s ambitious plans