My election plans almost went off without a hitch with my posterior comfortably settled into the perfectly formed groove in the corner of my couch. Beside me, my wife, my home phone, my BlackBerry, my laptop, my Blue Point Toasted Lager, a bowl of popcorn and a dog with a broken leg and a cast the size of his body (long story) were all neatly in their places for the evening. The only thing missing from my election night space capsule was a pair of Depends. Everything was perfect except for one detail. By the time all of my communication devices were fired up and News12 was tuned in, it was 10 minutes past 9 p.m. Ten minutes from the moment the polls closed throughout New York. Sometime during those 600 seconds I missed the gubernatorial election.
The New York Times had declared Andrew Cuomo our next Governor at 9:01 p.m. with Newsday following suit six minutes later. At 9:10 p.m. I felt like the last lonely boy invited to the dance.
My faithful reporters were on hand at candidate headquarters from Islandia to Manhattan busily reporting, tweeting, blogging and conferring with one another while I stared absently at the computer, my wife stared absently at me, and the dog stared absently at the enormous cast on his leg. By the time I recovered and touched base with the first of our reporters, Sen. Chuck Schumer was giving his victory speech and national pundits were talking about the overwhelming message delivered to Barack Obama and attempting to quantify the “Tea Party Effect.”
All of this with zero precincts reporting in from any Board of Elections in the state.
Life is moving too quickly, and frankly I’m not sure what to make of it. Earlier in the evening I was on a dinner date with my 7-year-old daughter. In between talking about school, friends and funny things her little sister says, I mentioned that it was Election Day again and Daddy would be up late talking to his friends from work. She knows Daddy likes Election Day. But when I mentioned this, a perplexed look came over her face and she asked me, quite casually, “Is it time to get rid of Barack Obama already? Hasn’t it only been like two years?”
Did I mention she’s 7?
Stunned, I sat back in my chair and stared absently at her inquiring little face, and tried to formulate a cogent response. (Little did I know my absent expression would return so frequently throughout the night.) Collecting myself, I stammered through some benign, meandering explanation of federal and state governments, election cycles and the importance of voting. Then I gave her a stern look and said emphatically, “And by the way, we don’t ‘get rid’ of our elected officials, young lady. We need to have more respect for our public servants than to talk of discarding them so callously—irrespective of your opinion of them.” One day, of course, she will question everything I ever told her after she’s dug up yellowed copies of the Long Island Press and perused my vituperative political diatribes. She has plenty of time to reach the jaded pinnacle of life her father occupies now. Until then she should breathe deeply because the air is as thin up here as my patience.
Where was I? Right, 9:30 p.m. Since the world had careened by me in the past half hour and I could only bog down our reporters with inane questions, I settled into my normal caveman routine, obsessively navigating BOE websites and watching television coverage. Since candidates were declaring victory before any votes were tabulated, I assumed the new voting machines were so stealth they auto-tweeted the results and bypassed the media. The only thing left was to watch the flurry of victory and concession speeches, and call it a night.
And then the waiting began.
Sometime in the 11 o’clock hour, after watching the News12 anchors stumble through the broadcast—despite the valiant attempts of the field reporters, Jerry Kremer and Mike Dawidziak, to salvage it—my wife gave up and went to bed. My phone stopped ringing and e-mails ceased shortly thereafter. Even the dog limped away from me and fell asleep somewhere around midnight. By 1:30 a.m. the results were still trickling in with some local and statewide candidates declaring victory; others would have to wait a few more hours or even a lengthy recount. Either way, the early evening mania was a distant memory by this time and no one seemed to know why the results were taking so long.
Much of the uncertainty was put to rest today, and there were few surprises. New Yorkers thought better of Carl Paladino and otherwise returned to their pre-Obama voting habits, complete with the state Senate delegation (almost) back in Republican control. Democrats and moderate Republicans outside of New York were abused, and the House tipped dramatically to the right, while Senate Dems held on for dear life. The real story is the Tea Party newbies and whether anger-fueled rhetoric will convert to policy and reform, or wind up in gridlock and rancor. My guess is the latter because Washington D.C., is about to be overtaken by too many rookie politicians who are probably mouthing Robert Redford’s immortal words from The Candidate: “What do we do now?”