Welcome to the Superbowl of American politics. All the campaigning, debating, polling, baby kissing and mentions of Joe the plumber have brought us to this deciding night. In the next five hours or so, the 44th President of the United States will be decided, and of course, I kept a running diary. Here’s what transpired:
6:55– Five minutes before official network coverage of Decision 08 begins, the room has one more pivotal decision to make: Which channel to watch the election unfold on. After much debate in regard to the pro’s and the cons of the issue, the room voted on ABC based on the unintentional comedy promised by the combination of George Stephanopolous, Diane Sawyer and a giant touch screen board.
7:00- Charlie Gibson leads off the telecast with an announcement that Vermont is going to Obama and Indiana is going to McCain. The fireworks have begun in fast and furious fashion.
7:05– Barely five minutes in, and Diane Sawyer just used the word “economy” six times in a six word sentence. Yes, that is a record. With the telecast expected to go late into the night however, Fox News is prepared to project she will break her record. No comment yet from ABC.
7:07– ABC unveils their state of the art touch screen board that is supposed to clarify the electoral vote scenarios for each candidate. I thought that was Stephanopolous’ job. By the look on his face, so did he.
7:15– In an attempt to regain airtime from his rivals the “touch screen” and Sawyer, Stephanopolous uses the word “staggering” three times in a single sentence. Sawyer is on her toes.
7:45– Gibson and Sawyer agree that Obama’s ground game has been pivotal thus far in regard to election turnout. I was unaware the Senator from Illinois was playing running back for the Bears. With the scores on the bottom of the screen and the numerous hosts vying for airtime, I keep thinking that I’m watching NFL Live on ESPN.
7:50– 50 minutes in and two states have been projected. My fast and furious comment before never happened.
7:55– No sign of Chris Berman.
8:02- Coming back from commercial, ABC announces that they are prepared to project that the pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) will go to Obama along with numerous other states. Personally, I’m glad I watched 50 minutes of political banter only to have every piece of action occur during the commercial break. Time well spent.
8:15– ABC is not prepared to predict Florida. The in-room over/under on times this line will be uttered during tonight’s telecast is currently at 27. I have the over.
8:45– A lull in the action on ABC. Reports over the wire are stating that Stephanopolous just attacked the touch screen board. ABC is neither confirming nor denying these reports.
9:00– ABC projects New York for Obama and the crowd at Time Square erupts in celebration. The in-room over/under is at 10 people in Time Square believing the ball will drop tonight. Only in America. Again, I’ve got the over.
9:05– After a commercial break ABC returns to action with numerous projections. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin go to Obama while Kansas, Wyoming and Georgia go to McCain. According to ABC, Texas and Colorado are too close to call. To avoid sounding repetitive, the network chose not to mention what is or isn’t happening in Florida.
9:10– After repairing the touch screen with no help from Stephanopolous, ABC announces that Maine will go to Obama. Stephanopolous is furious. It’s just a matter of time before he turns rogue and attacks Gibson and/or the board again. With Obama commanding an impressive lead right now this is fast becoming the best storyline America has left.
9:23– Ohio, perhaps the elections biggest swing state goes to Obama according to ABC. Even With California and its 55 electoral votes still not on the scoreboard, Obama holds a commanding 195-76 lead in the projected electoral vote. Things aren’t looking good for the Maverick.
9:35– During an ABC commercial, they make the bold statement that the presidency is “one tough job.” Thanks for clarifying, ABC.
9:37– Texas goes to McCain. The Republican heart beats on.
9:56-During a commercial break, ABC premieres their Lost season five preview. Regardless of what happens in the election, I will consider tonight a success.
10:11– After a lull in the action, Gibson invites Stephanopolous to the touch screen board. At this point, Gibson is just rubbing touch screen dirt in Stephanopolous’ emotional wounds.
10:15– No sign of Florida. I’m stunned.
10:29– Oprah Winfrey makes an appearance on ABC. As one of Obama’s biggest supporters, this has to be a special night for her. However, I just looked under my seat and there was no free IPod. Needless to say, I feel cheated.
10:49-ABC just spoke to a McCain campaign manager. There is no doubt in my mind someone just kicked his puppy. The election at this moment may not technically be over, but hearing the man speak, it may as well be for Maverick/Palin.
11:00– Gibson, with confident, strongly spoken words that will be remembered for generations, reports that ABC is projecting Obama will carry California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; consequently, he has the electoral votes necessary to become the 44th President of the United States of America. Aside from Stephanopolous’ attacks on the touch screen, this telecast wasn’t especially exciting, but I can’t help but feel like I just witnessed history. As Gibson spoke, chills went up my spine, and in the moments since, they’ve only intensified. Never before in my life have I felt this way about politics. I can truly say I’m proud at this moment, to be an American.
11:08– Still no sign of Florida.