It’s official. We’ve got just a few hours left until Election Day is in the books, which can only mean one thing. Everybody freak out. There could be a recount or an Electoral College tie!
Well, hopefully not. But in the event that there is, you should just be able to carry over the unsettled emotions and silent, desperate tensions that have been the norm in this last week before the election, when there is little else to do but watch the same old stump speeches and slowly track the incremental creep of various polls.
The presidential campaigns have spent the last couple of weeks in precisely this sort of restless state, as they've sprinted toward the finish line, alternatively holding out hopes for and against the possibility of some eleventh-hour, unexpected needle-mover. In this week’s HuffPost List, we break down some of the best and worst (but mostly worst) last-minute, pre-election moments and meltdowns.
ZOMG The Polls WTF!: Every day, with bated breath, campaigns and sad political reporters await the latest (skewed? unskewed? doubleplusreunskewed?) polls from any and every tracking service, including your mom’s. But because we’re in the homestretch, both campaigns have to start spinning those swing state polls in their candidate’s favor and, if you’re the Mitt Romney campaign, insist that your own internal polling shows you’re winning. Which raises the question: If your internal polling has the momentum on your side, wouldn’t you release it to intimidate your opponent?
Hurricane Sandy: You know you might be on the losing side when your campaign is already making excuses for your possible defeat. But Team Romney decided to take it a little far and point premature fingers at Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the East Coast last week, for tearing a hole in Romney’s much-touted momentum. In the first place, whatever "momentum" Romney took out of the first debate had gone inert well before Sandy became known as "Sandy" (as opposed to "this storm we are keeping an eye on), let alone by the time it made landfall in the Northeast. Second, let's have some real talk -- the story of Sandy is how it affected about a million different things (homes, businesses, lives) that were NOT the presidential election.
A Newspaper Endorsement? This Changes Everything!: Arguably, some swing state newspaper endorsements do matter -- like when Ohio’s largest newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, backs President Barack Obama and Romney still thinks the Buckeye State is within his reach. Or when the Des Moines Register in Iowa turns an off-the-record interview with the president into some huge brouhaha and then appears to endorse Romney out of pure spite. There is a limited interest to parsing the endorsement anytime a newspaper flips its preference. But the constant touting of predictable endorsements as if each is some kind of game-changer is a little tired. Gasp! You mean the New Yorker is going with Obama?
Celebrity Prowess: Nothing seals the deal better than the endorsement of a rich and famous Hollywood star. Until, of course, Meatloaf butchers “America the Beautiful” at a Romney rally or Lena Dunham equates voting with sex. Then all hell breaks loose, the latest example being Obama’s sequel to his epic Hip Hop BBQ in the form of a final rally in Columbus, Ohio, where he invited BFF Jay-Z to perform a number or two. The Romney campaign, apparently, was having none of it. (Everyone understands that Jay-Z was never a "safe" person to have at your campaign rally until he released "Beach Chair feat. Chris Martin from Coldplay," right?)
The Last-Minute Endorsement: Late last week, Michael Bloomberg moodily descended from the fence he'd been sitting on all year and decided that he was going to endorse Obama. What made Bloomberg forgive Obama for all those times he didn't obediently treat Wall Streeters with deferential respect? Hurricane Sandy, is what. As Bloomberg made clear, his endorsement was rooted in the mayor's respect for sound climate science -- but Obama spent about as much time talking about climate change during the campaign as he did talking about gun control, another one of hizzoner's pet causes.
Meanwhile, with one day before the election, the person who drafts and copyedits Sarah Palin's Facebook wall finally came out in support of Mitt Romney, after many hundreds of days on which that endorsement might have mattered more. This Facebook poke came on the heels of a $5,000 donation from Palin's political action committee to Romney's campaign. "Great," said the Romney campaign, "now we have to spend five thousand more dollars on something."
Naturally, what connects all of these things is that every single one of them might have mattered a whole lot to the election outcome, though there is an equal or better chance that each of them mattered nary a whit. Nevertheless, they will all be featured in the "day-after" thumbsucker-analysis pieces by pundits trying to explain how the outcome was totally shaped in the waning hours of the campaign.
At any rate, Election Day is nigh, people. Get to the polls and vote for Revenge, starring Madeleine Stowe and Emily Van Camp, airing Sunday nights at 9 on ABC!
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