It’s over. Kerry’s conceding. Bush will address the nation. Maybe he’ll announce a draft. Or that he’s appointing Clarence Thomas to succeed Rehnquist as chief justice. Or that he wants to kick some Iranian booty.
Scattered, random observations the morning after:
–The New York Times (and everyone else) is calling the result a cliffhanger. Yes, it was close. But a cliffhanger? Really, after what we went through in 2000, this was nothing. Nothing! It was apparent early on that Florida was going to Bush. Depending on whose Ohio tally you were following — the Ohio Secretary of State’s Web site lagged oddly behind the reporting available through the C-Span site (thanks, Pete!) or The New York Times — things only looked like they were really tightening up at one point very late. One bundle of precincts came in and narrowed Bush’s lead to fewer than 100,000 votes; but the old lead of 125,000-plus was soon restored. You would have had to believe that Kerry would win a fantasy share of all the unreported absentees and provisional ballots to see him winning the state. Meantime, Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico were all sliding toward Bush. True, if Ohio went Kerry’s way, Bush would have been denied. But Ohio didn’t move, and Ohio was the election (and no Florida 2000 or Illinois 1960 by a long shot).
–Let the conpiracy-mongering begin: Somewhere out there online, I’ll bet the conspiracy theories about the role voting machines played in Bush’s victory are already boiling. For instance, that the results varied so much from what exit polls showed in states like Florida that the fix just had to be in; and of course, there’s nothing to do about it, because there’s no paper trail for most of the touch-screen machines. Hmmm. Well, the pollsters are gonna have quite a post mortem on their hands. They were all over the map, and everyone who was watching the numbers knew something was off, and whatever it was had nothing to do with a screwy, poorly designed voting system. It will be interesting to see if we get a good objective report card on how the systems did, though.
–The mandate. So, Bush will claim a mandate. To make tax cuts permanent, appoint Clarence Thomas chief justice, and kick some Iranian booty. Noted: Thanks to the lack of a national third-party choice this year, Bush is the first to win a majority of the national popular vote for the first time since Poppy put it to famed tank driver and Williie Horton lover Michael Dukakis back in 1988. But: 51 percent a mandate? Well, of course, seeing that he won his last mandate with half a million fewer votes than his opponent.
–The popular vote: With 98.7 percent of the precincts in, Bush 58.6 million, Kerry 55.1 million. That margin of 3.5 million probably looks thrilling to Bush after what happened last time. Interesting that the margin was built up in the eastern states and has stayed steady as the western states reported. For the second time in a row, Bush lost California by 1 million votes.
–Illinois has 102 counties. Barack Obama won 96 of them. Alan Keyes triumphed in six of the state’s smallest counties, including picturesque Calhoun County, the land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.