Long night (I entered my last post at 5 a.m.) – late start this morning. I’ll need a couple of days to fully digest the numbers coming out of last night’s events (and to catch up on sleep). So for this morning let me just begin the post-election analysis with a few observations.
As most of you know, I take a bit of pride in not getting emotionally invested in any candidate, in order to analyze elections (and the presidency more generally) as objectively as possible. This sometimes drive my students (and readers of this blog) nutty, because they want me to post comments that reaffirm their gut feelings regarding which candidate is better, why their opponent is scum, etc. By now, I hope you’ve developed a bit of a grudging respect for my perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
However, this doesn’t mean I’m dispassionate about the presidency, or about elections. It will be said over and over again in the coming days, and much more eloquently than I can say it. But I’ll say it anyway.
We, as Americans, should take pride in what happened last night. First, we affirmed an ideal that for far too long in this country has been more often talked about than acted upon: that the only qualifications one needs under the Constitution to become president are the ones related to age, citizenship and residency (subject to term limits). Last night we took a step closer to realizing that ideal. We aren’t all the way there, of course, but it was a huge symbolic victory.
Second, and more important I would suggest, is that we once again transferred power from one party to the other without threat of coup, bloodshed, intimidation, vote stealing (well, ok, my guess is that there was not a little vote stealing going on). We take this for granted now. But it’s not the norm across the world, and it has not even always been the norm in our country (although we have a pretty decent track record dating back to 1800.)
Democracy, American-style, is an on-going experiment. We did pretty well last night.
Ok. Now on to the important things: how well did our forecast models work? Pretty darn well. I’ll address that, and related election issues, in the next post.
PS. I know that some of you had trouble logging in to post on the live blog last night. None of the tech people were able to explain what happened. I’m very sorry you weren’t able to participate, but I do hope you were at least able to read the exchange. Lots of great comments – Andy outlasted me, and was still posting excellent updates at 4 in the morning – I finally had to tell him to go to bed at 5 am. I’m sorry that I couldn’t provide the more detailed election night analysis of exit polls that you’ve become accustomed to, but my effort to do simultaneous election night commentary at the college and the online blogging meant that I didn’t do either particularly well! A lesson for next time…
And let me say special thanks once again for Professor Bert Johnson’s willingness to cohost the Election Night event – as always, his insights and comments made it a better night for everyone.