Lessons learned from yesterday’s election

A few random observations from the bleacher seats:

1. An individual’s vote counts. A few hundred votes here and there can mean the difference in what party controls the House and Senate.

2. All politics are local, except when they’re national. Somewhere in the coverage of the election, a reporter mentioned talking with a voter in Colorado who said he voted for the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor because he is frustrated with the war in Iraq. Strange thing is, it made complete sense to me.

3. TV coverage of elections is like tuning into a football game and all they show you are the announcers in the booth telling you their opinion of what’s taking place on the field.

4. Of all the really awful types of speeches you’ll ever hear, the two worse types of speeches are the election night victory speech and the election night concession speech. Winner: “This election is not about me, this election is about you, the citizens of this state.” (translation: That’s why I’m up here and you’re down there.) | Loser: “I can’t tell you what a privilege it has been to travel all over this great state and meet its wonderful citizens.” (translation: “I can’t believe I just wasted a year of my life and a few million dollars.”)

5. Advice to local news media operations. Forget everything you currently believe about covering elections. All those reporters you have stationed everywhere could have their own mini-channels rather than just waiting around to appear on the big-channel. Your viewers, readers, listeners are experts on the topic of who they voted for and why. They now have the same reporting tools you have. Figure out how to work together.

6. There needs to be a book called “The History of American Elections for Dummies” And by dummies, I mean reporters (and, okay, bloggers). Hint: By historical comparisons, our elections today are not “divisive.” Recall, we’ve had at least one election in our history that touched off the start of a long-simmering civil war in which over 600,000 Americans died. And if you think “negative advertising” is new, well, read up on the election of 1800 between Adams and Jefferson.

7. Timing is everything. You know how there are bubbles and busts in markets? You know how even the experts can mis-time the markets? You know how if you wait a bit, what is out of favor today can come back into favor tomorrow if you add Ajax to it and call it 2.0? Well, all of that applies to politics as well.

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  • Hudge

    A couple of pundits described the election as “parliamentary,” as in English Parliament. Not quite accurate – the government was not dissolved (I guess the Brits would say “were” instead of was?), nor was the top leadership in play. I think he meant that the election was about trust in a particular party’s dominance. I like that better than referendum, though.

    The same pundit noted that RI Sen. Lincoln Chafee lost not because of his stance on issues such as Iraq, but because he represented a potential Republican vote and majority.

    Folks who judge today’s MSM as biased or slanted or in the pocket of one side or the other should also read that “History for Dummies.” the proliferation of partisan blogs is actually closer to the early centuries of newspapers.