November 02, 2005
Prior to 2000, your typical Presidential election was decided by no later than 11pm EST on election day. In fact, if you looked at the right polls you could pretty much put money down on who was going to win. Guessing the popular vote margin and the number of Electoral Votes was the real challenge.
But in 2000, all that went out the window.
(More below the fold...) Not only was the result in doubt the next morning, but for another 30+ days, the country sat in bewilderment as the Democrats scrambled trying to litigate the process and manufacture enough votes so that eventually a recount would turn the tide back in their favor. Okay, enough about that fiasco. It's ancient history.
For last year's election, I was expecting something similar. I had a few vacation days left so I took November 1-3 off from work. My rationale was that on Monday I would be tired from Halloween and I needed to get some yardwork done anyway. Tuesday, Election Day, would be a useless day if I were at work because I would be just scouring blogs trying to see if I could get any inside info. And on Wednesday - regardless of the outcome - I would be too emotionally drained and would need to make up some sleep from staying up well past midnight.
I can't explain it, but I honestly never had any doubt that Bush would be re-elected. My prediction (though obviously I can't document it) was that Bush would win with 52% of the vote with 300 Electoral Votes. The actual result was 51% and 286 (I thought he would carry New Hampshire and either Wisconsin or Minnesota). There were a lot of pundits guessing the same thing, or close to it. I probably spent way too much time looking at polls. The key was sticking with a handful of reliable ones and taking the average. Scott Rasmussen was pretty dead-on.
The only time during the campaign that I was a little concerned was after the first debate. Something wasn't quite right. Bush was tired and seemed annoyed that he had to be there. I didn't think he hurt himself all that much but he didn't help. He had an opportunity to really smack Kerry down and get some momentum going, but it fizzled. But as usual, the President rebounded well in the other debates and never lost the lead.
Election Day came. I was pretty confident. I took my kids out for most of the day as they were off from school. I called my sister-in-law in Georgia on the cell phone to reassure her that everything was going fine and as expected. She was kind of nervous, and I ended up sending her and my brother-in-law emails that evening about how the Electoral Vote count was really shaping up.
I was dismayed to see the networks calling states early for Kerry but holding back on such slam-dunk red states as Utah, Kansas, North Carolina and Mississippi. It turns out that inaccurate exit polling had the media excited that Kerry was actually winning and they didn't want to jinx it. I remember seeing Drudge splashing some of these exit poll results in the early afternoon. As they didn't jibe with the polls that were last released before the election (and being as it was early) I wasn't all that worried. In fact, groups like ACT and MoveOn were purposely flooding the media with these bogus results to try and get some momentum going for Kerry. Despite all the spin on how close everything was, both parties knew by about 6pm that it was over. Only a last minute hope in Ohio kept the die-hards in the Democrat camp going.
But barring some bizarre turn of events (which was always possible) I went to bed around 2pm with Ohio "tentatively" in Bush's column, knowing I could sleep comfortably. The next morning, the nightmare scenario of 2000 that I feared was abatted. And all the next day, I read through plenty of blogs and other analysis to get some perspective on the "post-mortem". I think it was at that point that I really wished I had my own blog. It wasn't until three months later that I would go ahead and actually start one.
But many lessons were learned: don't rest on your lead, don't take anything for granted, perception is reality and most importantly - to paraphrase the title of Hugh Hewitt's book - if it's not close, the Democrats can't cheat. One other thing was clear. The trend of Democrat losses was continuing. And they will keep losing as long as they have no ideas, offer no alternatives and pull the kinds of cheap political stunts that they did yesterday for the benefit of these kinds of people.
UPDATE: 9:40pm Trackback to Blogs For Bush. "Victory: One Year Later". Thought it'd be appropriate to link my post from earlier today: "Election Reflections"
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