(unscientific) Proof Politics is a Sport

This election feels unlike any other in my lifetime.  I remember watching the returns of 1992 at the house of a friend whose dad was once governor of a certain mid-western swing state.  His dad was a “friend of Bill” and we’d get phone calls or my friend would make phone calls, it’s been a few years I can’t remember who phoned who, but we’d know if Clinton or Bush1 had won a state before the networks called them.  That was a unique experience.  It was the type of experience makes following an election like following your favorite sports team.

I’m from Massachusetts, one of those places in the country where it’s said politics is a sport.  Indeed, it feels like it this Texas morning to this Massachusetts politics geek and sports fan.  The last couple of times I had this kind of game-day anticipation the Patriots were in the Super Bowl against the Rams and the Red Sox were about to play game 4 of the World Series against the Cardinals in 2004.  Where will I be at game? Who will I watch it with? It’s all a bit ridiculous.  Except it’s not a game.  There’s no wait ’till next year if my team loses, the seasons are four years apart and I’ve endured two wait ’till next years in a row at the expense of dire consequences to the foundational values of our democracy such as habeas corpus, human rights, and fair elections (see Ohio 2004 and Florida 2000).  I’ve watched an administration try as hard as they can to turn a President into a king, use torture as a prefered policy, spy on our own citizens, and dig us a financial hole so deep we don’t yet what it’s gonna take to dig out.  People who disagree with the administration’s politics have been cast unpatriotic, not as the loyal opposition.  It’s game time and I want my country back.

Here are some good guide to watching the election results come in from Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com in a piece for Newsweek and Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times. Kula 2316 has a great diary up at dailyKos about what to look for tonight with a nice graphic from the SwingStateProject (on poll closing times).  All of them agree that if Obama’s going to have good night, we’re going to know early, as some of the big scores such Indiana, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia close their polls earliest in the country and if Obama is winning some of them, McCain’s road map to 270 electoral votes gets slimmer. If Obama is winning all of them, warm up the Opera singer’s vocal chords and get the fork ready and the broom out.

But then again, that’s why they play the game.  You can’t just mail in your press clippings. Teams may look good on paper, but once they get on the field. On any given Tuesday…USA 4, Russia 3, etc.  So get out and vote.

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