By Ralph Schwartz
It feels a lot like Christmas.
Except Santa will make his deliveries while we’re all awake, roughly from 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. Eastern time) to about midnight, our time.
He’ll bring a gift to roughly half of Americans, and coal to the other half. (An apt metaphor for either Obama or Romney, as both have said they would support the coal industry.)
Then again, he might not show up at all. There could be no resolution today or for many days, until a recount is completed in a decisive state.
Perish the thought.
Here at The Bellingham Herald, we have front-page mock-ups for Wednesday, Nov. 7 posted on the wall near the copy desk, to account for the options. The headlines read, “Obama wins,” “Romney wins” and “Still a tossup.”
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to predict a tie, although it is considerably more likely than say, a quarter landing on its side. Still, I’m taking the binary approach: Obama or Romney wins, and God willing that happens tonight.
So how have the predictions lined up the past week?
It’s kind of like predicting the Super Bowl. Just because 80 percent of the pundits are calling the election for Obama doesn’t mean he’ll win. Romney could, Joe Namath-like, pull off the upset. (Although I didn’t see anything where Romney guaranteed victory, a la Namath.)
John Cassidy of The New Yorker has picked Obama. Inspired perhaps by poll guru Nate Silver, he’s even called the final score: Obama 303 (electoral votes), Romney 235.
“Before I go against (the polls), I would like to see a particularly convincing argument for why they might be wrong. In this election, I haven’t seen such an argument,” Cassidy wrote.
That’s where Silver is leaning. As of his last update, early this morning, Obama has a 90.9 percent chance of winning. Silver wrote on Saturday, Nov. 3, that if Obama doesn’t win, the polls have been biased in his favor all this time.
But everyone knows Cassidy is a left-winger and suspects Silver is the same.
What about the conservative pundits?
Ted Frank makes a detailed argument for why Silver is off base and why polls favor Obama or misrepresent Romney’s support on many levels (a higher-than-expected proportion of whites will vote, polls of independents strongly favor Romney, Dems aren’t nearly as enthusiastic as they were in 2008).
The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney, whose blog has the eagle and the red, white and blue theme in spades, sticks his neck out among his readership, picking Obama.
But remember, as The Onion reported on Oct. 15, “polls are ultimately nothing more than ephemera.”
Also according to The Onion, one especially astute survey revealed, “100 percent of people who clicked on the headline linking to the poll’s results will never get back the three minutes of their lives they spent reading about nothing.”
Nor will you get back the time you spent reading this. But all this meaningless poll business is over. Now it’s a matter of a few hours before it’s the political junkie’s Christmas.