The election is over. Finally. It’s been a long night. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore the clock said 4:35. According to SVT Obama led in the Electoral College 207-135. And I went to bed. My eyes were starting to burn from staring at the TV, computer, and texting my little brother back home for news from the scene.
I set my alarm this morning for 10 because I needed to know. And when I woke up CNN told me that history had been made. Technically history would have been made regardless of which candidate won due to McCain’s age and his running mate’s gender, but that’s not the history people were interested in making. So Obama won. CNN gives Obama 338 Electoral College votes to McCain’s 163. The popular vote 52% to 47%. I wouldn’t classify it as a landslide, but the Democrats did what they needed to do.
So on January 20th, George W. Bush will leave office, handing over the White House to Barack Obama. And 8 years of Republican rule will come to an end. The Democrats will take over with control of the White House, seeing as Obama won. The Senate, because as it stands right now CNN gives 56 seats to the Democrats, 50 seats to the Republicans, with 4 still undecided. And the House of Representatives with CNN giving 251 seats to the Democrats, 173 to the Republicans, and 11 still undecided. Should a Supreme Court justice die or decide to step down, Obama will have the opportunity to appoint a Justice, potentially giving the Democrats control of every single branch of the government.
My home state of Colorado, long a bastion of Red, has turned Blue. Very blue. It went to Obama. The Senate race went to a Democrat. The House race for my district also went to a Democrat. But to be honest, in that race I’m pumped it went to a Democrat. Because the incumbent Republican should have been booted from office long ago. And while I might consider myself a Republican, I am well aware that even Republicans can really suck sometimes. And the incumbent sucked. So now no one can tell me that a white male Republican won’t ever vote for a female Democrat. Because I did.
In one of the more interesting ballot issues in Colorado right now is the vote to end Affirmative Action. As it stands right now with 87% of precincts reporting, the measure is tied 50-50. For some reason I would find it very fitting if the country elected a black man to the highest office in the country, and Colorado ended Affirmative Action all in one fell swoop.
Some other political thoughts I’ve been playing with: Politically active and engaged people should never live in Hawaii. By the time Hawaii comes around the election tends to be over. And that must be frustrating as all hell. What incentive do they have to vote at that point? Actually voting and incentives are an interesting little applied economics question. One that the good men from Freakonomics have tackled in a piece titled “Why Vote?”
Results shouldn’t be released until everyone has voted. As I have repeatedly mentioned, I am a huge nerd. But this was something I was thinking about in bed the night before the election. It was also something my old man brought up on Election Day. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say it: great minds think alike.
Anyway, this would solve Hawaii’s problems. Let’s say all the polls closed at 7 pm in their respective time zones. They don’t. I know, but work with me here. If every state in the Eastern Time Zone closed at 7 pm and one candidate swept those states, that candidate would have 193 Electoral College votes. And that’s only counting the states that are entirely in the Eastern Time Zone. If we throw in the states that still have a majority of their land mass in the Eastern Time zone we are up to 256 Electoral College votes. It takes 270 to win. That’s not all that exciting for those politically inclined who find themselves on Pacific Standard Time. Or even Mountain Standard Time. And don’t forget the aforementioned poor bastards in Hawaii. By simply not releasing the results until all the votes are cast, the feeling of disenfranchisement that the western part of the US might experience in landslide victories could be eliminated. And as this guy notes, it would also allow the media to really play up one big moment. The release of the results. That’s high drama. That’s good election TV.
And good election TV is something I could have gone for last night. My first real election from abroad was a good one. I’m glad I kept my ass awake for as long as I did, even though it didn’t really matter in the long run. I’m glad everything seems to have gone pretty smoothly, no need for recounts or courts. I’m also glad it’s over though.
I’d like to end by noting that over the last two years, Obama has been hailed for his speeches and his ability to speak to the nation. And he’s good. But McCain’s speech conceding the race and congratulating Obama is by far one of the best speeches I have heard in a long time.
“Americans never quit. We never surrender.
We never hide from history. We make history.”
And last night the United States of America made history.
For those of you interested, here is the Swedish media’s take on things:
Obama höll tacktal till nationen
Storseger för Barack Obama
Visionären Obama tackade folket
Historisk seger för Barack Obama
Valnatten: från de första rösterna till den historiska segraren
President – ett mardrömsuppdrag
Karismatisk segrare med ovanlig bakgrund
Världens ledare gratulerar Obama
Vinsten – yes he could
Welcome to Sweden.