So, Barack Obama triumphed, and triumphed by the margin that I predicated. With 97 per cent of precincts reporting in Florida, Obama holds a slim lead of approximately 47,000 votes. With Florida, Obama reaches my predicted electoral total of 332 electoral votes. It was a relatively stress-free night, with the Big O triumphing in all of the key battleground states, with the exception of North Carolina. Here are five things that I learnt from election night …
1. CNN’s John King is a legend
It’s not very cool to be impressed by a touch screen any more, given their prevalence. But John King takes mastery of the technology to new heights, effortlessly zooming in and out of key precincts in key battleground states, all the while deftly handling any comments Wolf Blitzer throws at him. As he correctly pointed out, in the key states of Ohio, Florida and Virginia, early returns tended to come from the rural counties that support Romney, while the Democrat-leaning urban areas, with their population advantage, had yet to report. As such, an early lead for Romney in these states quickly dissolved in the face of Obama victories. John King combines political astuteness with technological mastery. In short, John is a legend, a wizard of the widescreen, or as his Wikipedia page puts it, ‘Chairman of the Board’. Talking of which, his Magic Wall even has its own page on Wikipedia – this is no ordinary touchscreen.
2. Twitter led the news
With a vast array of websites to choose from, the source that best kept me up to date with incoming news was definitely Twitter. Having followed a few extra people I was inundated with declarations from all the major networks, the desperation of Karl Rove’s last minute denial, facts, rumors, and Barack Obama’s celebratory photo, which quickly became the most shared photo on the social networking site – ever. While CNN’s election results center was the go-to site for stats, Twitter was the easiest and best source of keeping up-to-date with the news.
King and his Magic Wall
3. Even in defeat Fox is no fun
I had assumed that watching Fox News as Obama edged ahead would be an enjoyable experience. Actually, that channel is just as irritating and infuriating as it always is, from Sarah Palin’s nonsensical interview to the presenters acting as though their pet dog had died as state after state declared for Obama. I enjoyed watching CNN a lot more, sharing in people’s sense of relief and triumph, but also seeing some top punditry. On the other hand, it was funny to see Karl Rove refusing to accept reality on Ohio …
4. Beer and cheese in moderation
It was relatively easy to stay awake all night watching as the results came in. But the lesson from this article – not to overindulge on beer (and cheese) early on – was a good one. A celebratory shot of Jack Daniels on 100 electoral votes being reached was well-deserved, but I still have two bottles of Sam Adams and Brooklyn left over for a celebratory drink this evening. Mozzarella sticks and Wensleydale stuffed with ginger were the snacks of choice.
My Map – barring a reversal in Florida
5. CNN was cautious – but correct
CNN’s coverage was very good, better than MSNBC and by the looks of it also better than the Beeb. They were slow and steady in calling states, even when Fox was willing to call them for Obama much earlier. But you have to be sure, and a reckless arms race to be the first network to call states is just that – reckless, indeed dangerous, and not based on facts (or exit polls!). Meanwhile, the night was a triumph for the statisticians. My prediction was spot on, but it was based on the superb resources available out there this time around – John Cassidy’s New Yorker blog, The New York Times’ 538 and Nate Silver, Real Clear Politics and electoral-vote.com, plus a bit of optimism that the people of Florida would go for Obama. They did. He won. And the sane part of Western civilisation is extremely relieved and happy. Well done Team Obama!
The most retweeted photo ever