Yes We Can

What a difference four years makes. In 2004, I was up until the wee hours because Ohio wasn’t called until the following morning. This year, with Pennsylvania called at 8pm EST and Ohio about 90 minutes later, it was basically over before my kids finished their dinner. We were watching SNL on the DVR from last night when my Dad called to tell us the nets had called it for Obama.

As I write this, Obama has 349 electoral votes – 79 more than he needed to win – with three states still to be called. It looks like Obama will pick up North Carolina (ahead by 12,160 votes with 100% of precincts reporting). Montana looks to be going for McCain (he leads by 7,000 votes with 77% reporting) and Missouri looks like a true tossup, with McCain ahead by a scant 1,740 votes with 99% reporting. Assuming those leads hold up, that would give Obama 364 EVs to McCain’s 174 EVs. Compared to the last two elections, that’s a good solid win on par with Clinton’s win in 1992 (370-168) but nowhere near the ass-kickings by Regan in 1980 (489-49) or 1984 (525-13) or Bush 41 in 1988 (426-111).

(BTW, check out the electoral college map from Carter’s win in 1976. It looks like Bizarro’s electoral map. The south went all blue while California went red? Can you even conceive of that happening today?)

But even though it wasn’t 500 point blowout, consider that Obama flipped all the following red 2004 states to blue in 2008: Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and (probably) North Carolina. My parents are very excited to live in a blue state (VA) now. McCain on the other hand flipped none – goose egg – from blue to red. McCain’s only real hope was Pennsylvania and it wasn’t even close – Obama won PA by 9%.

I did like McCain’s concession speech. Obviously, with the president around 25% approval rating, the incumbent party is at a major disadvantage to start with. But of all the Republican candidates, McCain was the only one I was ever worried about. IMO, any of the other Republican possible nominees would have lost by a much worse margin. McCain was attractive to independents in a way no other Republican candidate this year was.

But in the end, McCain had the probably impossible job of pulling together the 25% of Americans who approve of Bush (politely called “the Republican base”, though I call them “wack-jobs”) with another 25% of Americans who don’t. Kinda like trying to push like charged magnets together, they just wouldn’t stick. To me, it seemed like McCain tacked hard right and prayed the independents would still support him. But as I watched McCain’s concession speech, it made me wonder if McCain could have won by running an honorable campaign, tacking to the center and hoping the conservatives would still support him. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t, but he ended up running as a hate-mongering Rovian erratic demagogue and significantly damaged his personal brand. I can barely reconcile McCain from the stump with McCain from the concession speech. I’m guessing he’ll retire instead of running for reelection in two years.

(I’ve also got thoughts on Palin’s political future, but those will wait for another day.)

As for President-Elect Obama, I’m obviously excited than he won. Patrick made me promise to tell him who won in the morning (it wasn’t official until the west coast results came in after he went to bed). I’m going to show him Obama’s victory speech – it was amazing. I especially liked when he said “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.” My libertarian friend who thought it would break for McCain today (way, way wrong dude) immediately went political, pointing out that the Democratic “trifecta” means they can’t shift the blame if things get worse. I’m guessing Obama will have to do quite a bit to earn my friend’s support but I’m hopeful that he can.

In other races I’m following, looks like Gov. Christine Gregoire will win reelection and Darcy Burner is leading in her race to unseat Rep. Reichert (though with only 21% reporting so it’s far from sure thing). In California, Prop 8 to ban gay marriage is currently leading but with only 51% reporting so I’m hoping that changes. (Amending the constitution in CA doesn’t require a super-majority? That sucks).

Finally, a quick shout out to my friends from New Zealand that I hung out with after the Opshop concert at the TechEd Attendee party back in September. They confided in me that “everyone in the world” was pulling for an Obama victory. Based on this Global Electoral College from the Economist magazine, “everyone in the world” is pretty close to spot on. Happy that my fellow Americans and I could deliver an Obama victory. Feels good, doesn’t it?