Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 4th, 2008: Part Two

Editor's Note: We have been trying to get the second installment of Mr. J's election night report for several days now. When he failed to meet deadline and ceased to return our phone calls or e-mails, we visited his home in Chicago. There, we found him asleep on his sofa, an empty bottle of "Old Grand Dad" bourbon rolling on the floor, wearing nothing but an upside down Chicago White Sox baseball cap and the words "Obama '08" written in chocolate syrup across his cheast. We found the following pages next to his Hermes 3000 Typewriter and, after feeding the cat, took them for publication. We have decided not to telephone him for the third installment until the morning.

So there we were, sometime between eight and nine at night, with everything pretty much hanging in the balance. The air is heavy with the scent of indecision, with all of those south-eastern and mid-western states being still undecided. The crowd was tired, anxious, and just a little too moist and a little too aware of the fact that most of them had to be at work tomorrow at nine in the morning. Morale was reaching a bit of a nadir (Nader?) with our crowd. But, I think, that the next announcements were timed quite well.

First, came Pennsylvania. The crowd cheered, with as much relief as anything else. I never thought that Pennsylvania was ever going to in play, regardless of what the McCain campaign had been claiming. But with Obama still behind in both Virginia and Indiana at that point, seeing the Keystone State go blue breathed a little bit of life back into Grant Park.

A few more minutes passed. The crowd booed when CNN showed McCain with a 5-point lead in Texas. "Wait, why are you booing?" I shouted, "Texas is still too close to call! That's great news!" "Shh," said R.A., "Don't argue with the mob."

Wolf Blitzer then said something that really made me cross. "We're going to go to commercial break right now, but don't go away. CNN is ready to make a big projection in this race, and we're going to do it right after these messages. CNN: The best political team on television." Oh, they're ready to make a call, one that is really important, that you really don't want to miss, but you have to sit and watch more health insurance and creepy Viagra adds before they do.

When they came back from commercial, they showed us at Grant Park, and everyone stood up and cheered. Then they cut back to their special "Projection" screen, with those laser sound effects. "CNN," said Wolf, "is ready to call Ohio for Barack Obama."

The crowd went wild. Jumping, shouting, even a little dancing. My initial reaction was a combination of disbelief and skepticism. Ohio had just closed their polls. Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana had all close their polls between 1-2 hours ago, and none of them ad been called. And Ohio was supposed to be just as close as any of those states. Also, and this was probably at the heart of my suspicions, we'd heard this story before. If it were true that Obama had won Ohio, then the election was over - there was no way that McCain could come out ahead in the Electoral College. But that was what John Kerry had thought, too, and he still managed to find a way to lose. So you'll please pardon me if I wasn't quite in the jubilant mood yet.

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