November 03, 2008
Kissing Your Electoral Sister
November 5 - It's a tie. After two years, four debates, hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of polls, millions of pundits, and more plot twists than a dozen mystery thrillers, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama stand deadlocked with 269 electoral votes each.
McCain overcame deficits in Ohio, Virginia and Colorado and carried the traditionally Republican but hotly-contested states of Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana to hold a five-vote lead late into the evening. The nation's bleary eyes turned to Nevada, where at 3 a.m. local time Obama was awarded the state's five electoral votes, launching this eternal campaign into uncharted political and constitutional waters.
Both parties have marshaled legal teams in 12 states to contest votes, demand recounts and challenge ballots. Furthermore, Republicans and Democrats are already positioning themselves to attempt to sway the mind of even one electoral voter before the electoral college meets on December 15th to cast its votes.
Should the popular vote results withstand review and the electors keep to their commitments, the decision moves to the House of Representatives in early January, in which........
December 15 - The American political system buckled today when an elector from the state of Wisconsin named John McCain (no relation, but allegedly a clone engineered by a geneticist/dairy farmer with ties to the Republican party) switched his vote from Democrat to Republican, in spite of agreements by both sides to honor precedent and follow the results of each state's popular vote.
Following a month of pitched legal battles in a dozen states over the validity of the results on November 4th, none of which reversed the outcomes, today's vote was expected to be a formality. And so it was for 48 states and the District of Columbia.
But with Wisconsin as the next-to-last state, the stunning swap seemed to throw the election to Senator McCain. However, the last elector in Wyoming, Annie Oakley III, switched her vote, claiming that in the part of America where she came from - "real America," she called it - a deal was a deal. (Vice-President and Wyoming native Dick Cheney, upon hearing the news, disappeared into the White House bunker muttering something about launch codes.)
Attention shifted to the House of Representatives, where the McCain team is......
January 13 - In a result that promises to shake the foundations of the Republic, John McCain was able to convince the Democratic Congressional delegation of Indiana to switch its vote, giving the Arizona Senator 26 state votes and a final victory in the overtime campaign for the Presidency.
The petitioning of the Hoosier State was the final move of a brilliant campaign conducted by Karl Rove to convince delegations from traditionally center-right states that the results of each state's popular vote should be the criterion used, not the political party of the delegation itself.
The Democratic rout in the House of Representatives on election night in November seemed to set the table for an easy victory for Senator Obama in the newly-convened House. 33 state delegations had a majority of Democratic representatives, compared to 14 for the Republicans with three split evenly.
But the Republican political machine, led by Mr. Rove, began a quiet pitch shortly after Election Day to convince states that their obligation was to honor the results of the popular vote in their state. McCain won the vote in 28 states, and tremendous pressure was applied on Democratic legislators in those states to "vote the will of the people" or risk being ousted by their constituents in two years.
McCain was easily able to convince the three states with a split delegation. Idaho and Kansas gave McCain large margins of victory, and Arizona is the Senator's home state.
Once it was clear that some states were considering this option it gave political covers to others. Still nine votes shy, the next targets were the states with a single member in the House. Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana all agreed in fairly short order, giving McCain 21 votes, still needing five more states out of seven in which he won the popular vote.
Colorado and North Carolina refused early on and did not bend, leaving McCain to twist the arms of the delegations from Arkansas, West Virginia, Tennessee and Mississippi. Given Republican strength in the south and a fiery populist campaign run by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the states turned one by one, with West Virginia deciding yesterday morning.
After running a disciplined and unflappable campaign, the Democratic party seemed unable to make a compelling case to the public to counter the Republican claim that their approach reflected the will of the people, even though, for the second time in three elections, the Democratic candidate won the national popular vote.
It was an eerie repeat of the successful public relations and political strong-arm campaign conducted by the Republican party in Florida in 2000. The Obama team was able to convince only the sole Republican representative from Delaware to switch his allegiance to the Democratic side, a lonely and inadequate victory.
Attention now turns to the Senate, where a traditional vote would seem to favor the election of Joe Biden as Vice-President, an extraordinarily awkward result. But would it be foolish to assume this considering how many imponderables have already occurred? You betcha.
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