I suppose this is where I get to gloat a bit about my election prediction. I did predict a big win for Obama, and I would say he won handily. Depending on who you talk to, though, it was a landslide or a moderate victory. Yes, the spin has already begun on exactly how big the win was. Most media outlets would give you the impression that it was indeed a landslide, and some conservative analysts are pointing to the fact that the Democrats did not get the 60 seat filibuster-proof majority they were hoping for, and thus Obama and the Dems do not have a mandate from the American people. As I write we are still waiting on four Senate races to be finalized (AK, OR, MN, and GA). All of these are extremely close, and I would not be surprised to see Republicans win most of them, as they seem to be leaning that way.
A cursory examination of some hard numbers and history reveals that this election was certainly not a landslide on the proportions of say 1984 Reagan vs. Mondale or 1936 FDR vs. Landon. Landon who?…exactly. It seems that the 2008 presidential race will shake out to somewhere in the ballpark of either of the two Clinton wins in 1992 and 1996 in terms of electoral votes. The popular vote will be around 52% Obama, 46% McCain. Breaking 50% was something Clinton never accomplished, but there was a negligent third party effect this year. (Remember Ross Perot and Ralph Nader?) And in terms of raw votes, Obama is looking at about 63.5 million votes. Bush pulled in 62 million in 2004.
So, I would say a logical analysis of the figures indicates a decisive win, yet not quite a landslide. If you factor in any Bradley effect or race factor and what the Obama campaign represents, then this win becomes very big and symbolic of America’s desire for change in government.
Now, on to the second part of my prediction. My huge caveat did not come to fruition. (Do I get to gloat if a conditional predicate does not come true? I’ll keep the gloating to a minimum.) There was no Bin Laden video from his cave this weekend, no other unforeseen crises, and no dirty secrets from Obama’s past. Not that the McCain campaign didn’t try. The Reverend Wright ads finally started flying and a tape about bankrupting the coal industry magically surfaced. Pretty lame and certainly no DWI revelation like Bush had in 2000. Perhaps “October surprises” don’t actually work that well. It seems the McCain campaign realized it was over and started writing his concession speech, arguably the best speech he gave the whole campaign.
But, to end on a positive note I have to say that hope and optimism are quite contagious. There is certainly an air of optimism about the future of the US felt throughout the world that is exciting. I suddenly feel a little prouder to be an American, and I remain cautiously optimistic about the coming change.