On Scene: The four-year flood
November 7, 2008
Steamboat Springs — I think I’ve developed a twitch.
Not like the time in college when my eye started twitching from constant dehydration, but a new twitch borne from the information age. Last night, it was in full splendor.
As voting booths began closing, updates from national news Web sites began trickling, then flooding, in.
I was busy working that night, here at the Pilot & Today offices, awaiting the results from local referendums. Although we had televisions set up specifically for the big night, I was at my desk, my fingers wracked in spasms of information thirst.
I wanted hard vote counts – not unreliable exit polls or Wolf Blitzer’s guesses, but the actual tallied votes as elections large and small played out across the country.
NYTimes.com auto-updated their election-watch results every two minutes. Fivethirtyeight.com and talkingpointsmemo.com didn’t have any automatic updates, and realclearpolitics.com was driving me crazy with its slow posting. MSNBC.com claimed that their election-watch tool constantly was updated, but I didn’t believe it.
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I was scrambling to find state-level data for Florida from CNN.com and Miami.com; analysis from Slate.com (who called the result very early) and washingtonpost.com. Pages were loading in sets of tabs, separated in different windows by their purpose.
And then, like a strange wave of calm and catharsis, CNN called the election.
I could ignore Wolf no longer. NBC, Fox, AP and others quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
My fingers calm and my browser quiet, I cautiously joined my coworkers to watch the final results. It was not just that the election was called, it was that every news outlet was confident. The sounds of the newsroom changed from a chatter of working reporters and commentary from the television to the white noise of cheering crowds in Grant Park.
I was skeptical. The networks had been wrong before. They announced this election with zero percent of the votes tallied in states that already bore the checkmark of an assured Democratic or Republican victory.
But it was over. There was no doubt.
After the concession speech by John McCain, I reluctantly closed Firefox. The thrill of the election was finished, the adrenaline of the night had passed. Snow was falling heavily in Steamboat Springs, and the election season was no more.
For four years, I think, my twitch will be cured.
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