Well, November 2nd has come and gone, and with it, the election. Many of you doubtlessly watched Results Bowl 2004 at a local bar, enjoying a variety of beer and wing specials while the spectacle unfolded. Fortunately, this year's election was one devoid of the technical controversies that plagued the 2000 election. Though they had trouble with high-tech punch-cards just four years ago, voters in many Florida districts used Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to select whatever candidate that machine's programmer preferred.
Still, though uncertainty loomed as to whether or not your intended vote was properly tallied, at least the Florida election was free of logistical problems that is, except for those incidents when voters, fearing another "hanging chad" debacle, ripped the buttons clean off of the DREs after voting. Such foibles have come to be expected in elections these days, though. Iowa was plagued by some voting malfunctions of its own, while the Ohio situation proved that "provisional votes" are almost as negligible as the "popular vote."
What did emerge as the trend in the weeks leading up to the big day was an outpouring of celebrity opinion, with pressure arriving from all angles. Non-partisan, unbiased political activists that hate Bush took to the streets in non-Republican areas across the nation to register new voters into action, providing that these open-minded champions of democracy didn't vote for the incumbent. MTV continued to promote it's "Rock the Vote" campaign while Puff Daddy trumpeted his "Vote or Die" line of merchandise, despite the fact that many of the disillusioned youth-and-urban voters that "Vote of Die" targeted would probably have preferred the latter to the former.
But as the campaigns wound down and the polls revved up, the hype displayed by celebrities transitioned into overwhelming mania by the media, who spent every moment of Results Bowl 2004 speculating as to what the polls would reveal just hours later. I tuned in to CNN, which boasted a massive "'wall of projections' and a running commentary by analysts who ran out of things to say in the first fifteen minutes. Watching the broadcast, two things became very clear: Ohio only with regard to the election was very important and Larry King who got married and divorced twice during the segment was very bored.
Impatience being what it is, these analysts used "exit polls" to project the winner of each state shortly after the polls closed. Exit polls are surveys conducted at polling stations by media professionals, whom ask departing voters how they just voted. As was noted by other media professionals during the course of the evening, such polls can be misleading; after all, polls taken in major metropolitan areas would offer much different percentages than would polls taken in rural areas. The city of Manhattan, which recently filed for a restraining order against Bush, would've provided a much different perspective on the election than, say, the 97% of our country's area that belongs to red states. More importantly, the effectiveness of exit polls depends on the honesty of its subjects, which may explain why exit polls taken in younger, pre-dominantly university-based areas, revealed that the leading vote-getter was "your mom."
The night may not have gone smoothly crucial states Florida, Ohio and Iowa all refused to use the other states' "working" voting system, and made us wait well into the night for a decision but early the next morning, we had ourselves a president. In a very telling and commendable move, Senator Kerry decided to forgo the litigation that had lawyer / running mate John Edwards and his associates all keyed up and instead chose to concede the election as soon as it was apparent that he could not win. Angered by Kerry's decision, lawyers everywhere re-focused their attention to the increasingly-important 2008 election, which they hope to bypass altogether by just suing for the presidency.
Meanwhile, the dust seems to be settling calmly in the days after the election. A CNN / USA Today / Gallup poll taken Wednesday revealed that 51% of voters are happy with the results of the election, meaning that voters hadn't changed their minds in the preceding 24 hours. As is the mood following any election, some folks are sleeping easy at night, while others toss and turn. The latter are people now concerned for the future of America; the ones grieving over the loss of the one candidate that, thanks to the projections and speculations of so many analysts, they were sure was going to win: