Vantage point

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Mandatory US Election Post

If I were to sum up last night's election results in one hyphenated word, it would be - anti-climax. And the good king of anti-climax. The kind of anti-climax I felt in the Mohali test when the Australians just folded.

I was sitting in front of the TV, having completed all my scheduled research work for the week, almost sure that it would be a tight race. All the polls indicated a landslide, but some things are just too hard to believe. So here's what I expected would happen - Virginia and Indiana would close at 7 pm, and would be running very tight (too close to call), as would early results from Florida. That happened. Then an hour later, Pennsylvania would close and be called "too close to call" as well. That's when the first anti-climactic spasm hit. Pennsylvania closed, and most networks immediately called it for Obama. Almost immediately. Before a single actual vote was being reported. That indicated overwhelmingly strong exit-polls results in Obama's favor. So strong, that the networks did not think that they would end up with eggs on their faces like in the previous 2 races. So strong that even Fox News called it for Obama. And as the results started trickling in, Pennsylvania did seem to be going strongly for Obama, with double digit leads. Kerry had won PA by just 2.5%. Obama won it by a handsome 11% in the end.

So I thought.... OK... Virginia, Indiana, Florida and North Carolina seem to be very close. At least Obama has held on to PA, the one Kerry state McCain had his eyes on. It seems like it will be a close election again. Obama will hold on to all Kerry states, and then win Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to close the deal. Or would he? What if he lost them all narrowly and ended up at Kerry's tally? We'll know by around midnight, I thought.

Then at about 9:15, the second and decisive spasm of anti-climax hit. Fox News.... yes... Fox F-ing News, called Ohio for Obama. Ohio? For Obama? This early? And Fox News? This led to much self-pinching. Pretty soon ABC followed suit. Then MSNBC, and finally the most cautious caller CNN. By 9:35 pm, everyone had called Ohio for Obama. And it hit me. This is over. If he has won Ohio, and he wins all Kerry states, which he looks sure to, now that PA is in the bag..... finished!

All that remained was the formality of voting closing on the west coast at 11 pm EST. I immediately dazzled a few desi US-politics novices by predicting that at 11 pm, everyone would announce that Obama is President. And sure enough, they did. Obama then took Virginia, Florida, and later Indiana too. And of course, the southwestern states. When I went to bed, he was even leading in Montana, though by morning McCain had bagged it.

Not just a win. But a massive win!