For progressives, waiting for tonight's election returns is less a matter of giddy anticipation a la 2008 and more a cause of intense nail-biting. There is potentially more to lose tonight (or God forbid, in a couple of weeks if Florida, Colorado, or Ohio make a mess) than to gain. There’s health-care and regulatory reform, of course. But more than that, there’s the much-needed sanity that President Obama has brought to a politically fractious, often-unhinged Washington.
The wingers are champing at the bit, eager to unleash the destructive powers of an unfettered free market and the hounds of war. But if they fail—if we start to see confirmation this evening that Obama’s slim swing-state margins are holding—there will be plenty of reasons for liberals to do more than heave great sighs of relief. In 2008 we had a repudiation election: a national rejection of the destruction wrought by the Bushies. In 2012 we have had, as the president repeatedly said, a “choice election.” The choice, broadly speaking, was between sound government and reality-based foreign policy versus reckless rule by the Chamber of Commerce, the Tea Party, and the military-industrial complex. If Americans choose the former, it will be a welcome sign that we’re not, after all, the government-hating, greed-enabling people that Romney and the Republicans have banked on.
That won’t be the only reason for celebration. If Romney loses, it will mean that his campaign of deception, of fakery, didn’t work—at least not well enough to prevail. And it will mean that Republican attempts to hijack the election—with voter ID, with partisan election rules, with “citizen” groups trained to suppress minority votes—have been overcome. Those will surely be things worth cheering.
So They Say
“I’m not very pro-pundit, I have to say. If pundits were on the ballot against, like, I don’t know, Ebola, I might vote Ebola, or third party.”
—Nate Silver on The Colbert Report
Daily Meme: 2012's Campaign Coda
- Yesterday, the country's most frequent flyers gave their final arguments before handing the election over to the voters who star in the election's finale. Instead of the attacks and soundbites that dominated the campaign's final months, these last stump speeches offered a chance for reflection and a crucial summing up of what this long, disjointed year has been all about.
- Bill Clinton spoke in Pittsburgh on Monday night, telling chanting college kids: "The America I have been fighting for since I was a boy is on the line. The future of America in the 21st century is on the line. ... I want you to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a spring in your step, because America is coming back."
- In between campaign events in Virginia, Vice President Biden made a few of his trademark unscheduled stops and told reporters, “You’ve been with me long enough to know that I’m always optimistic. But I really do feel good."
- Paul Ryan ended Monday at home in Janesville after stepping onto an event stage in Milwaukee to It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock-and-Roll and telling the crowd, “We’ve had a lot of elections here in Wisconsin lately. We know how they work and we know how to win them.”
- Mitt Romney's final Monday rally in New Hampshire drew more than 13,000, a shocking growth of support from when Romney began his campaign in the state those many months ago that seemed to surprise even Mitt. “These last months of our campaign have seen the gathering of strength of real movement across the country. It’s evident in the size of these crowds like this tonight—my goodness."
- Barack Obama's last rally doubled as a homecoming party too, ending the campaign in Des Moines where his road to the presidency began in 2008. He retold the story of how the infamous "fired up" chant got its start, but added a crucial detail that segued perfectly into a cry for supporters to keep being ready to go for the election's final 24 hours. "It’s out of my hands now. It’s in yours. All of it depends on what you do.”
What We're Writing
- Clare Malone susses out the chances of a legal showdown in Ohio.
- E.J. Graff handicaps today’s marriage-equality initiatives.
What We're Reading
- Daily Intel has assembled a dandy guide to watching the election returns tonight, as has the New York Times. Matt Glassman offers tips for the most Real Clear-refresh trigger-happy among us.
- Drew Magary chronicles his trip to the polling place.
- The New Yorker offers a dozen vintage Election Day cartoons.
- Here's a look at the most creative Election Day front pages—and hey, most of them are from swing states!
- And here's a look back at the Top 10 closest presidential elections.
- In Connecticut, Republican Senate candidate and Romney supporter Linda McMahon is relying on a trick—making people think she’s on a ticket with Obama.
- Yesterday, "one in five visitors to the sixth-most-trafficked U.S. news site took a look at Silver’s blog."
Poll of the Day
Only one set of numbers matters now. Check out updates throughout the evening (or beyond!) on the Prospect’s 2012 election map.