For many, there is nothing like the thrill of Super Bowl Sunday, the World Series or March Madness. But for me, the greatest thrill of all is the finale of my favorite contact sport (politics) known as election night.
There are several steps that lead up to this special night. Two years before the election, the obvious candidates play coy with the media and pretend not to be interested. In the primary season you vote for the candidate who touches your heart. When that person loses, you hope the winning candidate can fire you up with a rousing acceptance speech at the mostly irrelevant convention. During the general campaign you endure the onslaught of political commercials. At the debates you hope your candidate can land a myriad of one line zingers to get a bump in the endless polls – conducted daily. By Election Day you can’t wait to wait in line to cast your ballot with your children in tow.
And then you wait again…for election night coverage!
First, there’s the pre-game analysis. Republicans and Democrats are handicapped before the returns start to come in. Candidate applause lines and gaffs are repeated. Battleground state strategies are laid bare and initial poll results are thrown out as teasers (“single red-headed women who own a toy dog are trending toward candidate A!!”).
While the analysis gears up, in a corner of your television screen the countdown clock relentlessly ramps up the anticipation. “45 minutes until the polls close in Massachusetts, 30 minutes for Delaware, 15 minutes for Wisconsin, 5 minutes until Illinois is called!” When the clock expires, you get a declared winner or hear the words, “too close to call”. You begin to get a feel for how the night may go.
As the evening continues, the state by state tallies keep coming in. One goes red and another goes blue. Some are obvious and some are a surprise. And then some stay blank, again, “too close to call.” You keep your eyes on the Electoral College totals on the bottom of the screen and calculate the effect this might have on your candidate’s prospects.
And then the moment comes…
A key state is called and immediately a winner is declared! (Cue the music: Hallelujah by Handel or the Imperial March from Star Wars.) You question what you heard, so you turn to one of the other 24 hour news channels to see what they’re reporting. And sure enough, they are all saying the same thing.
Once the acceptance and concession speeches have been delivered, bleary-eyed you turn off the TV, content that the majesty of American democracy has spoken. As you tuck yourself into bed and think about the January inaugural address, one final thought comes to mind…
…How long until the mid-year elections are over and this whole process can start again?
God bless America!
Your comments and questions are always welcome. I will reply to every one of them.
Vote. Don’t let the fun start without you!