I just talked to one of my best Team McCain sources who told me that heading into today all the key battleground polls were moving hard and fast in their direction. The source, hardly a perma-optimist, thinks it will be a long night, but that McCain is going to win. So add this with the new Battleground poll (Obama +1.9 only) and the rising stock market…
Here in Chicago, a group of us just got back from doing visibility for McCain here in Boystown on a break from monitoring the polling stations in our neighborhoods. So far, we have not seen any instances of Obama followers intimidating voters or committing any sort of fraud — but are keeping our eyes open. We are all veterans of the Iowa, Texas, and other caucuses, so we know how bad Obama's followers can be.
The weirdest thing about today is that we honestly see less Obama tee shirts, stickers, and buttons out that we saw Kerry stuff in 2004. We spotted two black people in Obama tee shirts and a 60-something white hippy woman with long gray hair wearing about 57 Obama buttons (one for every state), but that's about it. Spotted one McCain tee shirt and one pink Palin shirt though.
The best part: SAW THREE PEOPLE IN HILLARY CLINTON TEES.
Honestly, you would really not know there was even an election going on. There is no excitement in the air here in Chicago. Our polling stations are in a neighborhood heavily populated with young professionals and college kids — supposedly Obama's demorgraphic. Both polling places near us have not been busy all day. There was never a line, and inside the room there are about 35 poll workers and monitors, with something like 25-30 voting booths, and at most we've seen 6 of them occupied at a time.
Where is Obama's “youth army”?
Or, are they all going to come in 10 minutes before polls close to overwhelm the room, like they did in Iowa for the caucus?
You can tell the Obama supporters on the street, though. They look really worried. Word's spreading fast here that Obama's going to lose — the big Reifenstahl-styled rally Obama planned for Grant Park has been downgraded, according to police we know. Instead of one million people coming out to hear his concession speech tonight, the city is now expecting only “tens of thousands”. The world's biggest celebrity doesn't seem to be drawing the crowd he hoped.
More later when we get the chance — back to our stations — another four hours or so until polls close here.
If turnout and excitement for Obama are as dismal in the rest of the city as they are in Boystown, this could be a VERY bad night for Dear Leader.
It's all anecdotal at this point, of course, but it sure makes one wonder, doesn't it?
On a related note, Anne Applebaum writes an interesting column at the Washington Post that addresses five election myths and is worth your time to read and consider:
Election Day, as always, is fraught with peril. Beware the seductiveness of opinion polls, which can mislead badly; beware the even greater attraction of exit polls, which have so often been wrong. Beware the too-early commentary, the too-swift judgment; and, above all, beware the hopeful, reassuring cliches that will be passed around today and tomorrow, giving false succor to winners and losers alike. Among the most dangerous:
The Republican Party will benefit from some time out of office. Not necessarily. Those Republicans who comfort themselves with this argument should remember the example of the British Conservative Party, which was ejected from power by Tony Blair in 1997 and spent the next decade tearing itself to shreds. Spared the time-consuming business of governing, the Tories had more time to argue with one another about basic principles and split themselves into warring factions. As a result, they have nominated one unelectable leader after another and have remained out of power.
The Democratic Party will become more thoughtful and responsible when in power. History tells a different story here, too: After decades in opposition, the Republicans took control of the House in 1994, vowing to reform Congress. For a while, they tried. Then they gave up. If anything, the subsequent Republican Congresses proved to be bigger spenders and more avid consumers of pork than their predecessors had been. More to the point: The current Democratic Congress is, so far, no better.
A Congress and White House under the control of a single party will function more efficiently. This, as Bill Clinton can tell you, is manifestly not always the case. To cite another cliche: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Without the need to make cross-aisle deals, the temptation to make bad decisions is great. Also, if and when the president becomes unpopular, Congress has an incentive to defy him, regardless of his party — and vice versa.
If Barack Obama wins, our standing in the world will improve immediately, just because he's “different.” There will, I am sure, be a brief moment of shock and surprise when the rest of the world learns that one of its most treasured beliefs — “whatever happens, the Americans are always more racist than we are” — is untrue. There will also be a good deal of rejoicing at the passing of the hated Bush administration. But reality will set in quickly as foreigners discover, along with American voters, that the American president isn't as powerful as they think, can't change everything immediately and won't be able to change some things at all. A President Obama would not be able to end the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he would not be able to make the stock exchanges rise, and he would not be able to halt the recession right away. And that's only the short-term disappointment. In the long term, foreigners, along with American voters, will also discover that America is not about to give up on global capitalism and start “redistributing” the nation's wealth to others. Kenyans in particular will be disappointed.
After the election, we can finally stop talking about politics. No! This interminable political season will not, I'm afraid, be over so quickly. If Obama wins, every single one of his first moves will touch off debate: Not only will he be the first black president, the first post-boomer president and the first Democrat in eight years, he will be the first Democrat in office after Sept. 11, which makes all of his early security decisions crucial. By contrast, if John McCain wins, every U.S. polling organization — along with the entire American political commentariat, as Slate's John Dickerson has observed — will be utterly discredited. A lot of explanations will be required.
Whoever wins, the assessment of who's in and who's out of Congress, who's been appointed to what in the apres-Bush White House, and what it all means will take weeks and weeks. And yes, as my Post colleague Jackson Diehl notes, the new president will be very quickly tested, if not by Iraq then by Iran, if not by North Korea then by Syria: Joe Biden, at least on this single point, is correct. Alas, for those who liked the world better when there was nothing on television but Paris Hilton: It's not over till it's over — and even then it's not over, not for a long, long time.
I'm kind of surprised the Post let her get away with this column, but in any case it's pretty good stuff. I'm especially interested in seeing how the entire media's narrative and poll-spin will be explained. Personally, I think that a lot of people will be voting against the media as much as a candidate this year – I'm convinced that Americans fundamentally resent being told who they should pick, and that's exactly what's been happening. I reeeeeally hope we all get to watch the media convulsions and finger-pointing…it'll be great fun!
There's my two cents.