From My 2008 Diary
Wednesday 5th November
Election night chez moi. Chips, avocado dip, three two-litre bottles of Coke and the remote control. An act of savage and brutal self-control means that I don’t even turn on the television until 5 p.m., when the first results come rolling in. I am prepared for the long-haul, and to stay up all night if necessary. These notes were made live, and not in retrospect:
5:00 - I turn on msnbc to see that Pennsylvania has just been called for Obama. Although Pennsylvania always votes Democrat, the analysts regard this as significant, and the McCain campaign people seem disappointed. Still, everything’s going according to the plan. However, ominous silent footage of teams of lawyers examining ballots in Florida does not bode well. Is West Palm Beach the new Miami Dade? And what the hell is wrong with the people who design the ballots in Florida?
5:30 - Someone in a heavily-CGIed room informs us that of the white voters in North Carolina who said that race was a factor in their vote, 30% of voted for Obama. What the hell does that mean? That over a third of the white race-voters voted for Obama because he’s black? This election is already defying logic. The coverage hops to Grant Park in Chicago where thousands of people are streaming in to watch Obama win. There is a genuine sense here that the carnival of shit might actually be coming to an end.
6:00 - All the middle states are too close to call, as is Florida, where ballot problems continue. However, it’s looking like Obama might take Virginia and North Carolina, which would mean that the American Civil War is finally over.
6:20 - The first red state flipped to blue is Ohio. This was here all the drama happened in 2004, with dark mutterings about Karl Rove personally jamming a screwdriver into voting machines. Whatever. It’s done now. Aloha Ohio Obama. The addition of Ohio’s 20 electoral college votes (ECVs) means that he’s on a total of 195 compared to McCain’s 85, although this is before many traditional red states come in. However, we can reasonably assume that Obama is going to carry California, which has the highest number of ECVs at 55, which would give him 250 ECVs. He only needs 270 ECVs to win the election. This could be over the second Florida declares. They’re more or less 50/50 in Florida right now, but Miami Dade (ohnoes!) hasn’t come in yet, and that’s traditionally Democrat.
6:37 - Keith Olbermann is declaring Obama the winner even without Florida, on the basis of Washington + Oregon + California + Hawaii (one would hope) + his existing 200 ECVs = 273. While he’s saying this, New Mexico comes in for the Democrats. I’ve never seen blue so close to Texas before. Jesus Christ - Obama might actually be able to do this even without California…
7:00 - I can’t take any more of this. My nerves are frayed. I decide to watch The Daily Show’s one hour special to take my mind off the more serious aspects of the thing. However as this is a special live show, they keep giving state-by-state updates. Iowa comes in for the Democrats, representing another flip. Jon Stewart comments: “You’d think people enthralled by watching corn grow would vote for McCain.”
7:30 - Bradley Effect denied during exit polls.
8:00 - Back to msnbc. While I was in the bathroom, California, Oregon and Washington state came in for Obama, giving him a total of 284 ECVs and the presidency. Huge sighs of relief from objective news anchors. Rachel Maddow and Rep. John Lewis start crying. No one rushes to hug them.
8:15 - Fuck me. Colorado comes in for Obama.
8:18 - Florida comes in for Obama. This is starting to look like a landslide. It’s 333 ECVs to 146 at the moment.
8:25 - John McCain delivers his concession speech. His gracious and good-hearted speech is frequently interrupted by jeers from the crowd whenever he makes a positive comment about Obama or Biden. This is disappointing.
8:30 - Throng gathers outside White House. They are a noisy bunch of people. This is Washington D.C. The mood could turn ugly at any moment.
8:35 - Rep. John Lewis is still emotional. It’s a wonderful thing to see - he talks about his time as a child in Georgia, and seeing signs like “White People Only”, and when people like himself were regarded as second-class citizens. And now one of them’s running the joint.
8:40 - Nevada comes in for Obama.
9:00 - I go to sleep.