Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What To Watch For

Here are things to watch for tonight:

1. How votes are being reported
With so many early votes, how they are reported is key to understanding what is happening. Will NC show us all the early votes as soon as the polls close? If that is the case, then Obama will have a huge lead. Will states report the early voters differently from absentee mail-in ballots? Will they be able to accurately estimate turnout when they say some percentage of a precinct has reported? This will lead to…
2. Network confusion
They have tried to do “exit” polls of early voters, but that doesn’t mean they’re representative, nor do they know what percentage of voters they actually are. Exit polls generally suck, but in this case they will be worse than usual. Ignore them – I know you like looking at Norah O’Donnell, even when pregnant, but turn off the sound or check another network for real information. There is nothing of any value there. What the polls will do is confuse the networks when they try calling states. When their data conflicts with actual numbers, they are stumped. Add in the complete impossibility of estimating turnout within demographics – most specifically young and black voters – we will hear all sorts of hedging. Some early voting states may be easy to call, some may have to wait until they are confident of the total vote. In a sense, this could make things more fun.
3. Delays and more delays
Poll closing times will change constantly. I expect relatively few states to close when they are supposed to, because turnout will be massive. Long lines, needless challenges by Republican scum, and ballot shortages will result in many visits to judges by lawyers. Also there will be serious problems with voting machines – as always, fixing problems cause yet more problems. The most common visual of the day/night will be a reporter standing in front of a long line of people, many of them upset. This will also present many fine opportunities for helicopter shots of long lines winding around the block.
4. Indiana
Everybody is talking about all sorts of tip-offs, here is a simple one: look at Indiana. If the networks announce it as “too close to call”, Obama will win decisively. If it’s “too early to call” we don’t know what it means, as it means their polling data is in conflict with the votes coming in, or it’s just below their threshold for a call.
5. The phrase “History is being made today/tonight”
You want a drinking game? Use that phrase and see if anyone can see the TV set by the time polls close on the west coast.
6. Republicans spinning this defeat
GOP talking points will feature such excuses/explanations as:
It’s the stock market’s fault – the collapse made it impossible to get our message out
It’s the media’s fault – they were biased and we couldn’t get our message out
Obama bought the election – he broke his word to use public financing and corrupted the system (this will be the hardest one to use with a straight face, but they will)
People didn’t vote against the Republicans, they voted against Bush, who wasn’t on the ballot
We lost our way, forgot the governing principles of Reagan, so we’ll spend the next two years fighting for smaller government and a balanced budget against the big-spending Democrats.
Osama Bin Laden is happy tonight (this will be said by some losing Senate or House candidate and picked up by media, then danced around by other Republican operatives)

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