What makes this election different from the 11 other presidential elections I actually remember (Sorry Ike, I don’t remember ’52 or ’56) is how long it’s been heavily covered.
In the pre-Internet, pre-cable days candidates were on the stump, but mostly unnoticed by the general population. If you spoke in Chillicothe, you might have gotten some local TV coverage (in fact you prayed for local TV coverage) and maybe a short AP/UPI write-up, but no one else knew. Now, every breath you take, every move you make, they’ll be watching you!
Democrats pulling for Senator Obama equate this massive coverage to vetting and use it to thwart Senator McCain’s claim we know nothing of Obama. I don’t think McCain’s getting much traction here. We all feel, right or wrong, after all this time we know the candidates.
I remember reading somewhere that Bush-41 knew he was going to lose to Bill Clinton a few weeks before the election (I cannot find a citation fo this–but it is my memory) and then just went through the motions. It doesn’t look that way with John McCain, who I saw speaking from a town on the Tennessee/Virginia border a while ago. Still, it’s got to be tough to know you’re as far behind in the polls as he is.
I’ve always thought it was students and young adults who drove Lyndon Johnson from office. And yet when franchised as a very liberal young voter I never voted for eventual winners. Very frustrating.
In 1972 I waited in a long line at the Mallard Creek 2 polling place in Charlotte, NC to vote for Eugene McCarthy. “If you vote for him things will be awful,” I was told. I did vote for him. Things did turn out to be awful.
No one I knew was voting for Nixon and yet he ran away with North Carolina and the election in general. Since then I voted voted both Republican and Democratic in presidential elections. To be kind, I am not a bellwether.
At work I asked Intern Jacob if he was excited about this election and if he thought students were involved. He quickly answered yes. I found that encouraging.
Back in 1960 the election results were on all-night. The election itself wasn’t decided until the pre-dawn hours. Though I was just 10, I remember how exciting that night was (and I also remember primarily watching NBC). I was prepped for the same fun in 1964, but everything was decided quickly. Not every election goes down to the wire. In fact, most do not.
Tomorrow’s results will probably be known early and Barack Obama will go-to-bed President Elect Obama. In football he’d be seen as a prohibitive favorite… and yet they still play the games.