The prevailing theory about the 2014 election, at least according to pundits, is that it's an election about nothing. No dominant theme explains issues that Americans care most about. Forty days from Election Day, much of that could change. A U.S. military conflict in the Middle East could very well upend races -- indeed, it's already affecting how the parties present their candidates to the electorate.
It's not surprising then that the campaign cycle has at times taken a turn for the absurd. To borrow the words of one wise philosopher, "politics is weird and creepy and ... lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality." Nowhere has that been more evident than in some of the most hotly contested Senate races across the country.
Graphic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.
From chickens in Iowa and cows in Arkansas, this election isn't about nothing. It's an election about everything* that makes America great. (*So long as we keep in mind that it has nothing to do with one's ability to legislate and run the government.)
Yes, there has been some substantive debate. Women's health issues have dominated the Colorado Senate race. Ditto for North Carolina, where Republicans have tried their hardest to pin Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) to President Barack Obama. But by and large, Senate races have centered on the ridiculous. The correct way to hold a gun in Kentucky, what kind of truck you ride around in in New Hampshire, whether you really drive snowmobiles in Alaska, and how you party in Louisiana are all topics of great debate as candidates jockey to prove their home-grown bona fides.
It was all a little much for Jon Stewart, who mocked the upper chamber Wednesday night.
“If aliens came down to earth and watched our political ads, they would think the Senate was an adult summer camp competition, or some six-year pass to Dave & Buster’s,” the Comedy Central comedian said. “We got shootin’! Snow machines! Friday night’s keg night! Come on down to The Senate!”