Mike Wilbon, in today's Washington Post sports pages, reports that in the 17 presidential elections since 1940, the incumbent party has prevailed whenever the Washington Redskins won their last home game prior to the election, while the incumbent party has been turned out whenever the 'Skins lost their last home game before the election. [With one exception - 2004]. As you may know, the Steelers came into Washington last night and trounced the Redskins 23-6.
There was a wonderful scene at my polling place this morning. I must admit that I love Election Day -- there's something charming about the scene at our local elementary school, with the kids all running around, the bake sale in the lobby to raise money for the school, the incredibly earnest polling place volunteers and poll-watchers, the crowds just beyond the "No Electioneering Beyond This Point" sign handing out flyers, etc. When I went this morning, there was a group of about a dozen middle-aged men and women, all dressed up in their snazziest clothes, taking photos of one another in front of the school. Turns out they were all recently-naturalized citizens from Colombia, and they were celebrating their first time in a US voting booth. Everyone walking by could see what was going on, and had a big smile on his or her face - a nice moment, and nice to be reminded of what a big deal this voting thing that we do really is.
Like many of my co-bloggers here, I am outraged by many things involved in the way we conduct our elections. I care a lot less, though, about a few dead people who may be voting in Cleveland than I do about the millions and millions of people who are unable to exercise the franchise because they have work to do and can't take several hours out of their schedules to stand on line at their local polling places. I cannot for the life of me understand why we simultaneously (a) inexplicably refuse to hold our elections on a Sunday, when working people have time to spend in non-working pursuits, and, in addition, why we (b) seem to be unable to handle unusually large numbers of voters at many polling places, resulting in lines that are often two or three or more hours long. I happen not to regard "early voting" as a terrific solution to this problem -- I think we lose a great deal if we discard the notion of a single ceremonial day when everyone stops what they're doing to go and vote. It's preferable, I suppose, to a system that has widespread breakdowns and delays on Election Day - but really, why can't we apply our vaunted American efficiency to get the process working right? Why can't I walk in to the poll, swipe a magnetic card to turn on the voting machine, record my vote, and get on with things?