Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

An American election prehistory

All the results, analyzed on Tuesday afternoon

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We have arrived again at that traditional time of year when I use my journalistic expertise to provide you with an in-depth analysis of whatever election is taking place, unless there is no election taking place, in which case I just lie on the couch in the den gobbling leftover Halloween candy until I lapse into a sugar-induced coma.

Today, however, we are going to analyze the results of last night's thrilling U.S. presidential election, which will be extremely challenging because, from a strictly journalistic standpoint, I do not have a clue what the results of last night's U.S. presidential election are.

For the record, this is not my fault. As always, I am writing this thoughtful, informative analysis in the middle of the afternoon while the polls are still open, and my plan is to go out for chicken wings, then race home in time to catch the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Fortunately, as a modern journalist, I am trained to analyze things before they happen. That's just the way we pundits roll in the online era of Twitter and Facebook, when what we say is not nearly as important as when we say it.

Imagine what the world would be like if we media pundits only dissected world events AFTER they had occurred. Sure, we'd make far fewer mistakes, but it would be pretty boring in the long run, especially if betting was involved.

I hate to brag, but I have a long and glorious tradition of analyzing things I suspect probably happened. For example, regular readers will recall that, in a hard-hitting column written on the morning of last year's provincial election, I accurately stated the winner, the person who would lead us in a time of economic crisis, would be the guy that most of us -- or at least a majority of us -- voted for. And I was right!

It's a similar situation with elections in the U.S., except the person who gets elected president is decided by something called the electoral college under a system that is more complicated than brain surgery and involves more handguns.

Had I been watching last night, I am sure I would have been struck by how tight the race was, even though the two candidates could not be more different. Yes, both of them wear expensive suits -- unless they are trying to appear sincere, in which case they take off their jackets, roll up their shirt sleeves and sweat profusely -- but Barack Obama openly supports "hope and change," whereas Republican challenger Mitt Romney is in favour of "change and hope."

Another key factor in making this race too close to call was the number of celebrities lining up to support the two candidates. Making strong pitches for Obama were rock legend Bruce Springsteen, sexy songstress Katy Perry and noted political expert Snoop Dogg, while Romney's campaign received a critical boost from veteran Hollywood actor/director Clint Eastwood and his favourite kitchen chair.

There certainly were a lot of dramatic televised moments last night, weren't there? Remember when that one analyst on that TV network made that controversial statement and one of the other experts on the panel totally disagreed with him?

Or how about that part where the famous political insider explained how exciting everything was via the technique of pointing at a computer-generated map wherein some states were shaded red while others were coloured blue?

It goes without saying that you, a Canadian and citizen of the world, were glued to your TV watching this drama, partly because you believe in keeping yourself informed on the political landscape in the most powerful nation on Earth, but mostly because you and your spouse couldn't agree on what else to watch due to the fact the NHL has locked out its players and the only way to enjoy hockey is by stealing your child's video-game system.

But none of that matters today. What matters is the election is now over and voters in the United States have selected that guy in the suit, the guy who gave all those stirring speeches, as their president. Unless, of course, they didn't.

It is entirely possible the folks in Florida, a state whose population consists largely of Canadian snowbirds, have brought everything to a grinding halt again, just like they did in the 2000 election when they confused their voting machines with video lottery terminals.

But you don't need me to tell you that, do you? Because you stayed up all night watching the miracle of democracy unfold before your very eyes in high definition. Which tells us something vitally important about Canada as a nation -- we don't get nearly enough channels on our TV sets.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2012 A2

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