Harry Truman came from 8 points down to beat poor Tom Dewey in the final 2 weeks of the 1948 Presidential race. Although the romance of Camelot has dimmed memories, JFK trailed Nixon until the end of the 1960 campaign. Again, in 1980, Ronald Reagan came from behind in the polls to defeat Carter in the final days of that campaign. In 1976 Gerald Ford’s last week’s rush left him just short of a victory and in 1968, Hubert Humphrey also gained furiously in the last days to nearly beat out Nixon in the closest popular vote ever. Some analysts will even point to George W. Bush who brought new meaning to “coming from behind” by overtaking the exit polls themselves and unexpectedly winning against both Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. To many, how he managed that feat of magic remains a mystery. But, it’s a fact – in American Presidential elections, the final days and few weeks have been extremely important to the final decision on Election Day.
Without much fanfare, that tradition has come to a screeching end, trampled into the ground this year under the feet of millions of early voters, many of whom are patiently waiting hours upon hours to cast their vote for President well before the official Election Day
The term Election Day has been rendered archaic. Early voting in 31 states has deftly and quietly swept Election Day into the same cultural dust-bin where 45 rpm records lay stacked in piles next to millions of IBM Selectrics and other similar machines called typewriters. It’s the same place where out-dated behavioral patterns, and those who continue to practice what was once thought to be important social necessities, such as men who shave their face everyday or women who routinely, and for the most part needlessly, wear girdles and corsets. All of them have gone the way of the 8-track cassette, the Zippo lighter and the doctor who makes house calls. Joining them now – Election Day.
Yes, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, this year that being the fourth day of the month, many Americans can and will go to their local polling places to vote for President of the United States. But, so many millions of Americans will have already cast their irrevocable ballots – via Early Voting – that this particular election will already have been decided. Votes actually cast on Election Day will be an afterthought, quite literally, a thing done after the result has already been determined.
NEWS FLASH! All the candidate activity of the last two weeks is wasted effort. The 2008 Presidential Election is over. The next President of the United States - Barack Obama.
Modern technology, not to mention common sense, has modified if not completely overwhelmed the wit and wisdom of Yogi Berra. For those who nevertheless insist it ain’t over ‘til it’s over… well, then – let me give you the news. It’s Over!
A mindful, rational examination of the various, numerous polls should lead most observers to the conclusion that, with less than 2 weeks remaining in the campaign, only 4 states can still truly be called toss-ups, too close to call for either Obama or McCain. They are: Georgia, Indiana, Montana and North Dakota. These 4 states have only 32 Electoral votes. How they eventually divide means nothing to the election’s outcome. So, for our purposes, let’s give them all to John McCain. It doesn’t matter; its too late for him.
A 5th state with early voting, Nebraska, awards its 3 Electoral votes by district. It joins with Maine as the only two states not to participate in the winner-takes-all Electoral system. Nebraska’s 3 Electoral votes will split 2-1 in favor of John McCain. Thus, to get started, give the Next President, Barack Obama, 1 Electoral vote.
Of the remaining 26 states with early voting, Obama and McCain will each win 13 – an even split in states, but an Electoral landslide for Barack Obama. The 13 states Obama will win, including California with 55 Electoral votes all by itself, will give him an additional 185 Electoral votes. John McCain’s 13 states deliver only 106 Electoral votes.
Okay… with 1 from Nebraska and 185 from the other 13 states, early voting will mean Election Day begins with Barack Obama already having 186 of the 270 Electoral votes needed for victory. Before a single vote is registered on November 4th, Obama only needs only 84 Electoral votes win the Presidency. Still, you may ask, if he only has 186, and if he needs 270 to win, why is Election Day archaic, obsolete, an afterthought? The answer is simple.
John McCain can win only 4 states that actually vote entirely on Election Day. They will be: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina. In our unique American system, none of them is big enough to help McCain win anything. Combined, they will only bring McCain 31 more Electoral votes, equal barely to Obama’s sure-thing victory in one state, New York. Even giving all the toss-up states to John McCain (more a rhetorical device than an actual reality), McCain will win only 4 states with double-digit Electoral votes: Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. Obama will win 16 states with more than 10, including 6 with more than 20, 1 with more than 30 and 1 with more than 50. Remember, its all about Electoral votes. All told, on Election Day Obama will rack up a staggering, and almost uncontested 179 Electoral votes. Obama will end up with 365 votes in the Electoral College, one of the largest electoral landslides in American Presidential election history. No matter how much closer the popular vote may be, who cares?
Early voting will change all future Presidential elections. The campaigns must forget about the last two or three weeks. If they haven’t made their case effectively before early voting begins, it will be too late – just like it is this time for John McCain.
We used to talk about the October Surprise, a event so significant it would alter the result of a November election. In the coming elections the October Surprise better be a September or August Surprise or it will have no chance to change the dynamic of anything.
For 2008, this one’s over and done with. Put a fork in the McCain/Palin ticket and rent your tux for Barack Obama’s Inauguration on January 20, 2009.