This is my random notes section from Tuesday night’s events. Not quite a running log, but the highlights of my notebook entries for the night. I watched the election from our basement, with a 40 oz. bottle of Miller High Life that I worked my way through slowly throughout the night. I primarily watched NBC and MSNBC, although I stopped on CNN frequently, and even CBS and ABC from time-to-time. A little C-SPAN coverage too. I make no effort to be fair and balanced, so just call me the Fox of the Left.
Indiana is one of the first states to go to Bush. Shocking. I later learned Marion County (Indy proper) went for Kerry, the first time a Democrat has won that county in at least the last four elections. That’s interesting on many levels, if only to me.
The first reference to the gay marriage bans comes when discussing Kentucky, where it’s called a definition of marriage initiative. S., “Definition of marriage in Kentucky?” Affects a very hick, southern accent, “Don’t be marryin’ your sister no more!”
All networks report that voting in Florida was relatively uneventful this time around, with few reports of crazy ballots, interference with voters, etc. Chris Matthews, “South Florida is clean.” All over the nation, NBA players rejoice!
I’ll say it, MSNBC’s panel was absolutely awful. Andrea Mitchell is utterly worthless. She’s got a huge conflict of interest, being married to Mr. Greenspan and all, she’s a straight reporter sitting in an opinion setting, and she seems afraid anytime shouting starts. Willie Brown was speaking a language only die hard politicos could understand. Pat Buchanan was brutal as ever. Ron Reagan, bless his heart, seemed content to sit back and let everyone else talk. Matthews endlessly interrupts others. I’ll get to Joe Scarborough in a moment. Dee Dee Meyers was the only bright spot. I wish more partisan hacks could be like her. She clearly has a point of view. But she’s willing to discuss issues from both perspectives without getting into shouting matches. She needed to be on more.
Back to Scarborough. You never really know what you’re going to get with him. One moment he’s a smug political insider who looks at anyone who dares share an opinion with an arrogant glare. Next moment he’s a partisan hack. And then he’ll launch into an explanation of a process that is insightful, clear to the average viewer, and extremely balanced. I wonder if he’s bipolar? His thoughts on gerrymandering and the bad effects it has on politics were outstanding.
One of the worst lines of the night: “Bush needs Ohio, but so does Kerry.” Ron Reagan. I bet he got a fat check for offering insight like that. Most 15 year olds understood the significance of Ohio.
Chris Matthews after the polls closed in Ohio and they spent five minutes talking about it: “We don’t have the numbers to tell you anything, really.” Can I have the last five minutes back then?
I didn’t catch what state it was in, but somewhere there was a congressional race between Goode and Weed. Turnout was reported as high.
A local note, Marvin Scott was running as the Republican against incumbent Senator Evan Bayh. We were driving around last weekend and saw a series of yard signs for Marvin. I wondered aloud, “I need to ask Nicole if she’s related to him.” S. busted out laughing. “What?” “They may be related, but Marvin is black so the odds are pretty low.” Oh.
Andrea Mitchell on the alleged voter fraud in Philadelphia (which was later reported to not exist), “It will only be a problem if the popular vote is an issue.” I understand what she’s saying from a national perspective, but don’t you need an accurate measure of the votes to figure out who won Pennsylvania? Come on, Andrea.
Not sure how they did it where you watched, but our local NBC affiliate shrunk the network image so they could run a ticker of local races across the bottom of the screen. That distorted the NBC feed so much that you couldn’t read any graphics they showed. The popular vote, percentage, and electoral vote numbers NBC was scrolling in the bottom right corner were impossible to read, even on a 52″ TV.
Gubernatorial. That word makes S. laugh every time she hears it.
Props to NBC for working with their partners at Microsoft to get Tim Russert a tablet PC to replace his whiteboard from 2000. We truly are in a new century!
Around 9:00 EST was when the race shifted. Numbers that we expected from the afternoon exit polls did not seem to be appearing. Possible steals for Kerry were staying Red. Swing states he was rumored to have strong leads in were remaining uncalled. Spokespeople for the President were appearing on every network saying that the exit polls weren’t matching the numbers they were seeing. Is that the truth, or are they just setting the expectation that something is wrong with the vote so they have grounds to challenge any close states?
Chip Reed on MSNBC discussing the provisional ballot fiasco in Ohio, “There’s some creative judging going on in Ohio tonight.” If you’re going to expose your own personal bias, at least come up with a better sounding term than “creative judging”. He continued to use it and it made me cringe each time.
Thank goodness the networks finally started to explain how most states have provisions automatically extending voting hours if there are people in line when the polls are supposed to close. You could hear howls from every corner of the country each time word that voting had been extended in one state or another. “Bertha, did you hear what those goddamn Republicans/Democrats are doing in Ohio/Pennsylvania? They’re stealing the election, plain as day!”
Keith Olbermann, regarding a ballot initiative in Florida labeled Teen Pregnancy. “No, they’re not trying to outlaw teen pregnancy.” Why not? That would solve so many problems if we just made it illegal for teenage girls to get pregnant!
OK, I’ll ask the question: Why aren’t absentee votes required to be received by the counties no later than election day so they can count them with all the other ballots? Is it really that hard to give people a deadline 7-10 days before election day so their ballot has plenty of time to make it back to the county commissioners? I understand provisional ballots needing more time to verify then manually count, but there’s no excuse to not make absentee ballots be included in the regular vote count. Apparently Iowa makes every effort to do exactly that. Props to you, Iowa!
10:10 EST, Joe Kernan concedes the Indiana governor’s race. Joe seemed like a good guy. He was put in a tough spot when Frank O’Bannon died a year ago and he assumed the role. Believe it or not, Democrats have held the governor’s office in Indiana for 16 years. He planned on retiring after this year, and instead was forced to defend every government scandal (since the buck stops at the executive’s desk when a Democrat sits in it) and compete against the former president of Eli Lilly. Even if I don’t like them, I always feel bad for politicians who have to conceded an election. Is there any greater let-down than spending a year, if not more, running for an office, trying to convince people that you have their best interests in mind, and then they vote against you? A losing politician could go on to fight hunger, campaign for world peace, or play a significant role in solving out health care problems, yet they’ll always be known as “the man who lost Ohio” or “the woman who couldn’t win her home county” or whatever. Tough business.
10:52 EST. Tim Russert says the election is down to Ohio and Florida. He’s been waiting four years to say that! I imagine most Americans, from all political perspectives, feared we would hear that again.
A quick pass by CNN shows Robert Novak talking about the divisiveness of the election. Hello, Pot!
Wolf Blitzer seemed distracted by CNN’s big board approach to results all night. He’d be frantically searching for what he was talking about when it was right in front of him. Half the time, the windows dedicated to a particular state or race didn’t offer the viewer any substantive information. C- for CNN.
One more CNN note, each time I saw Larry King, he looked totally and utterly confused. I think he’s like those Red Sox fans who were waiting to die until the Sox won a World Series. He was trying to get through one more election before he kicked it. “So let me get this straight, whoever wins the most votes in Ohio wins all that state’s electoral votes, and thus the election?” That’s only a slight exaggeration of a typical King comment.
It was sometime after 11:00 when I first heard that there were 11 gay marriage bans on the ballot across the country. I think that’s the time I started to feel really bad about Kerry’s chances.
11:40 EST ABC calls Florida. The water starts circling the drain. I didn’t watch much of ABC, but when I did, I was impressed by their coverage. NBC and CNN seemed to be focused on giving us lots of poll numbers since they couldn’t project winners in so many races, but they never really gave us a context for those numbers. ABC seemed to be diving into the big issues and explaining why they were significant. I should have watched them more.
Are Norah and Kelly O’Donnell related, or are Irish women just taking over NBC?
The buzz word of the night was “moral values”. What exactly does that mean? Don’t we all have moral values? More brilliant framing of the issues by the Republicans. If you don’t accept the far right party line on moral issues, you lack moral values. Truly one of the most important aspects of the election, as it allows the R’s to poach voters who’s economic interests are closer to the D’s, but feel a moral affinity with the right. In a time when the President doesn’t have much to run on economically, it was an ideal moment for this shift to occur. Karl Rove is truly the shrewdest politico in the nation.
12:20 EST. There are still people waiting to vote in Ohio? What the hell is wrong with election officials in Ohio? Props to the college student interviewed on NBC who complained about people “taking too long” to vote.
12:55 EST. I think Robert Novak is drunk.
12:59 EST NBC calls Ohio. Crap.
1:00 EST TV turned off, I head to the computer to read political blogs in hopes of finding some massive irregularity that gives hope that there’s a 2000 scenario out there. There does not appear to be one.
2:00 PM EST, November 3. Kerry gives an excellent concession speech. He did the right thing, both in waiting and in conceding. There were probably scenarios that gave them <1% chance of finding enough votes to turn Ohio around, but it wasn’t the right time to go that route. When it became obvious that the chances were that slim, it was the right thing both for the nation and for the Kerry campaign to pull the plug. He’ll go out as a gracious, valiant loser rather than a Sore-Loserman (No matter how unfair that characterization was).
Part three, which will be written from more of a political science perspective than a personal one, will come over the weekend. I promise no more politics for awhile after that.