IT’S THAT WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
That bold philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed democracy as “a mania for nose-counting”, and, while most Americans would probably profess to be horrified by the notion, they certainly dislike the process on a visceral level. Among those constantly polled most-disliked groups in society politicians would certainly give such old favorites as telemarketers, car salesmen, and attorneys a run for their money. And certainly back in the day election night television would have been stuck in an even lower level of Hell, preventing everyone from watching Masterpiece Theater or My Mother the Car or whatever, and of course now, where anything can be watched anytime, anywhere, such individuals can watch away to their heart’s content.
Well, count Bigly Covfefe out. I love election night. I’ve loved it since 1962, when I sat mystified as the voters had their say on something called the Stanley Plan, which was going to redraw our legislature to comply with the Supremes’ command that state legislatures conform to one man (as would then have been said), one vote.
Actually, I do remember Election Night 1960, or at least the election, as I was declared campaign manager for Dick Nixon against my best friend’s Jack Kennedy in the second grade mock election, as we remarked on the irony of our families’ political affiliations being reversed in the process. Incidentally, the Nix trounced the opposition, though my sense of accomplishment was severely diluted by my being chastised by the teacher for letting a poster which she deemed as particularly effective (a two-inch strip of paper with ‘Nixon’ printed in crayon on it, each letter written in a different color) drop to the floor when she had, rather harshly, I thought, yelled at me to quit piddling with the effing bulletin board and get back to my seat—RIGHT NOW! Ah, the capricious heartbreak which can befall us when we venture forth into the political world.
But I don’t remember much about election night, probably because I had to go to bed at eight, though I do remember being told various things about the presidential result which were both explained to me with great certainty and mutually exclusive. By ’64, though, I was in my element, despite the fact that it wasn’t a close election at all and not even the Congressional races were very suspenseful in most cases. But I loved the big old wallful of analog scoreboards noisily tabulating as anchormen droned on, often about matters which seemed not to correspond very well with what the scoreboards were relentlessly pointing out. This, I decided, was better than a baseball game.
I had about two more elections of this blissful wallowing in the wall of numbers, but before we got far into the seventies, the wall of numbers was gone, to be replaced by occasional glimpses of raw numbers interrupting a flow of blather about this trend or that trend, and never a moment’s consideration given to the actual returns, especially from the many races which the punditry had declared too noncompetitive to merit their notice.
However, regular readers of this column know that Bigly Covfefe possesses an unflagging confidence that better things are to come, so still I showed up every year, and sure enough, the eighties brought us—cable TV. And cable TV begat cable news. And cable news begat the news crawl. And the news crawl begat, eureka, the return of raw numbers. There they were, swimming along the bottom of the screen, and it mattered not if Bob Novak and David Brinkley had declared the Montana governor’s race to be noncompetitive and irrelevant, there were the numbers.
And, as so often happens, this good turn of society’s means of communicating with me led to one of my best ideas ever—my election night tablet, a pearl of great price on which I made tables for each state’s Governor and Senate races, if they had any, as well as their Presidential vote, if it was the year for that. And then I would go to the library and write down the predicted outcomes as calculated by that political junky’s Bible, CQ Weekly. And come election night, there I would sit, happily scribbling away and highlighting till past midnight on my tablet (must I mention that this was a paper tablet, not a computer?) And I‘m not too modest to admit that once or twice somebody would ask me for a copy of my tablet.
And thus began another period of happy stasis until the Internet’s death sentence for all but a few print publications claimed CQ Weekly, which, if it’s still out there at all, exists on the Internet only and you have to pay to access it. Bigly doesn’t like paying for things. Bigly likes going to the library. However, a nice man started up a website which collected a bunch of predictions, or at least links to them, and so, as is supposedly always the case, a technologically-fueled disappointment eventuated in one of those blessings-in-disguise I keep hearing about (usually, I tend to agree with Churchill’s “Right now it is very well disguised”). I had more predictions, and they were available to me in a relatively few places.
But then the nice man’s wife got cancer and he closed the website, and I spent several elections tracking down predictions wherever I could scrounge them. You know what happened next: most of them went behind pay walls.
But this year I’m back to one-stop shopping. Whilst churning through Wikipedia on an unrelated matter (if you must know, I was trying to find out if there was a weather station in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands…yes, that’s how I spend my time) I put in to see if they had a list of all the state races this year, and not only did they have the lists, they had…PREDICTIONS! Ten of them, more than I had ever had. I had to drop one because of incompatible terminology, but this year I’ll be looking at nine predictions and barely have room for actual returns. I’ll deal with it. Life is good.
And since you’ve read this far, you deserve my predictions, though if I were a baseball player, I’d be batting about .147 on predictions.I think that when the dust settles the Senate will be a little more Republican and the House will be a little more Democratic.And those results will make everybody happy.