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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Election Night Mini Narrative
My vote tracking site was cnn.com, which has consistantly had the best information from election to election. I particularly like being able to drill into the county-by-county numbers as they roll in.

On the way back from voting, I was listening to Hannity. He sounded stressed. Talking down the reliability of exit polls, urging people to get out and vote in a way that smelled of desperation. I'd seen the early afternoon exit polling. Coupled with Hannity's attitude, I was starting to get a little stressed myself.

When I got home, I got the late afternoon exit polls. Universally bad news for the President. I got a knot in my stomach that tightened progressively over the next couple hours. When the Fox News All Stars came on, they sounded morose, and the analysis all seemed aimed at explaining why Bush lost. My attitude was bordering on suicidal. A call from Ohio Mike did nothing to abate the dread.

I opened a bottle of wine, gave up on getting any work done, and started digging into the real numbers, hoping against hope that maybe... just maybe... the exit polling was off. It was a new systtem, the old VNS one having been scrapped after the 2002 debacle.

Other than a few positive messages from Kerry Spot's inside source, my first glimmer of hope came when Jay Cost reported Bush significantly overperforming in GOP counties in Florida. A few of these from him were enough to prompt a call to Ohio Mike, and we started looking at the counties on CNN, and comparing the 2000 and 2004 numbers. Try as I might, I couldn't find bad news. Bush was overperforming statewide by significant margins. I decided not to get excited about things until the big 3 Democrat stronghold counties in the south started reporting. When they did, and it was clear that Bush was exceeding his 2000 numbers by an average of 2% in each, I started to climb out of my depression. Bush's 5 poing margin had held steady as the votes rolled in, and we had our first solid evidence that the exit polling was WAY off in Florida... and therefore maybe in the rest of the country.

We played the same game in Ohio for the rest of the night. Mike had good knowledge of which counties to watch (aside from the obvious Cuyahoga). As the Democratic counties reported, but didn't erase what had held steady as about a 120K to 150K lead, cautious optimism became real hope. We concluded that Kerry couldn't win Ohio about 10 minutes before Fox called it.

I waited for Mrs. Nomad to get home before popping the California sparkly (no French stuff in this house), and spent the rest of the night waiting for Kerry to concede. I got angry when Edwards hinted at litigation. It was clear that there was no way Kerry could win. I didn't need the prospect of weeks of whacked out moveon.org types to mess with my elation.

After some angry words directed at the former senator from North Carolina, I called it an evening and hit the hay. By the time I got up, Kerry had ended it with a phone call.

Four more years. Sweet.

It sounds like all Republicans were on an emotional rollercoaster. I'm glad I missed the early exit polls. Here's a quote from a Bushie from Time magazine via RCP.

It was on Air Force One on election day that strategist Karl Rove started calling around to get the results of early exit polls. But the line kept breaking down. The only information that came through as the plane descended was a BlackBerry message from an aide that simply read: "Not good." Not long afterward, Rove got a more detailed picture and told the President and senior aides the bad news. Florida Governor Jeb Bush had been saying the state was looking good, and the Bush team had expected to be ahead in Ohio. But Kerry was leading everywhere. "I wanted to throw up," said an aide onboard. Bush was more philosophical: "Well, it is what it is," he told adviser Karen Hughes.
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