We can fret, flail around with our theories, over-analyze and pontificate as to why our side will win. But in the end, it’s still in the hands of Americans. And for that, I remain eternally grateful.
People want to be told that everything is going to be ok. My Democratic friends have been maniacal since the first presidential debate, prodding me for positive news. They’ve nervously been clicking on the Huffington Post, refreshing Nate Silver’s blog every 3 minutes and listening to liberal hosts who assure them that the only way their party could lose next week would be through lies, stolen votes and a racist America.
Republicans spent the first month of the general election campaign in quiet despair, clinging to God, guns and Rasmussen polls to provide them the quiet assurance that, in the words of the Reverend Al Green, everything was going to be alright. They clicked nervously on Drudge, read Wall Street Journal editorials and listened to talk show hosts who told them the only way their party could lose was if the media buried their candidate or pollsters entered a grand conspiracy. At their lowest moments, many could be heard shuffling around their ranch homes muttering the word “Benghazi” for hours on end.
But as America awakes this morning, less than 24 hours before polls open in places like Dixviille Notch, New Hampshire, there is little that can be said to assure nervous partisans that their man is going to be living in the White House next year.
Republican confidence was at a high water mark last weekend but the one-two punch of Sandy and a flurry of swing state polls have made them less certain going into Election Day.
The President’s political team grows more confident by the day with one poll after another reconfirming their long held belief that this election would be close and that their organizational prowess would prove to be the difference. Almost every media poll suggests they were dead on with both assumptions. The fact that Republicans are quietly grousing about the timing of the hurricane and the Romney camp’s disastrous GM ad shows some GOP insiders are not waiting until after the election to play the blame game.
History suggests that both sides should calm down.
Despite modern day revisionism, the media elite in New York and Washington believed on Election Night 1980 that Jimmy Carter would beat Ronald Reagan. If you don’t believe me, go back and look at the anguished coverage of that historic evening as TV anchors and network correspondents tried to grasp the meaning of the Reagan Revolution as it was unfolding before its very eyes. At one point ABC’s Frank Reynolds angrily asked: “What the hell is going on?”
The same happened in 2004 when exit polls clearly pointed to a John Kerry victory. By late afternoon in Boston, his closest aids were calling him “Mr. President” and in New York everyone in the media world was preparing to tell the world that American voters had risen up and rejected yet another Bush after a single term. It is worth noting to those who seek assurance from any source as to tomorrow’s result that the words “President Kerry” was crossing the lips of the smartest folks in the business at the very moment the polls were beginning to close across the East Coast. That assumption prevailed throughout the early evening hours of election night coverage until actual results started coming in. When I saw George W. Bush outperforming past GOP candidates in South Florida I knew everything I had heard throughout the day was wrong.
Most recently, I remember the political horror show that was visited upon Hillary Clinton in the days leading up the the 2008 New Hampshire primary. Hillary had finished 3rd in Iowa the previous week and was one loss away from political oblivion. With polls showing Obama up by double digits in the Granite State, the political world piled on declaring the former first lady’s presidential campaign to be an abject failure. I remember watching her in a Nashua high school auditorium delivering the last speech of her NH campaign thinking that this was a sad way for this accomplished woman to end her political year. 24 hours later, the media world was turned upside down and Senator Clinton would soon set the campaign trail on fire by running one of the gutsiest campaigns I’ve ever seen.
Does that mean that Mitt Romney will prove all the swing state pollsters wrong? I doubt it, but you never know. Every newspaper and network correspondent I have spoken to over the last week have told me the same thing: Romney’s crowds are electric and Obama’s rallies pale in comparison to 2008.
Thinking back to 2004 and John Kerry’s 50,000 plus rally in Madison, WI, I’m not so sure that massive crowds matter but as of this morning, I don’t know. Neither do you. That’s what makes American Democracy so magical. We can fret, flail around with our theories, over-analyze and pontificate as to why our side will win. But in the end, it’s still in the hands of Americans. And for that, I remain eternally grateful.
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