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I suppose it's arguable why the presidential election tightened considerably after the first debate. But without question....it did. What was shaping up as a blowout favoring Obama before the first debate turned into a much, much closer contest after.
Nate Silver of the NY Times now has the percentage chance for an Obama win at 68.1%, chance of a Romney win at 31.9%. Silver's popular vote calculations have Obama at 50% and Romney at 48.9%. Electoral college projections are 288.3 Obama, 249.7 Romney. So, Obama is still projected to win the election, but by a much slimmer margin.
That's why I see a potential electoral crisis.....one that would make the 2000 election look calm in comparison......just a couple weeks away.
The important swing states this year are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Today, Nate Silver has projected vote shares in Colorado at 49.5% Obama, 49.5% Romney.... and in Virginia at 49.6% Obama, 49.6% Romney. Dead even.
The remaining swing states have the following projected vote shares today: Florida, 50.5% Romney, 48.7% Obama.....Iowa 50.3% Obama, 48.7% Romney....Nevada 50.6% Obama 48.2% Romney....New Hampshire 50.6% Obama 48.6% Romney.....North Carolina 51.5% Romney 47.8% Obama..... Ohio 50.3% Obama 48.4% Romney.....and Wisconsin 51.3% Obama 48.0% Romney.
Let's cull the list down somewhat for discussion purposes. North Carolina leans Romney, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire lean Obama. I think Ohio and Iowa will lean Obama as well, but for the sake of argument, let's leave them in my "too close to call" list of 6 remaining swing states.
Now imagine. It's 9AM Wednesday, November 7th....and in 3 of those 6 "too close to call states"....it's still.... too close to call, with the outcome of the electoral college hanging in the balances.
With the experience of election 2000 under our belts, how do you think things would work out from there? Recounts ordered, lawyers and activists from both parties converging on those three states....a media hysterically over the top. How do you think that would resolve itself? Or, could it be resolved?
Florida recount 2000 had the "Brooks Brothers riot", the Florida supreme court rulings, the hanging chads, and finally the Supreme Court order to stop recounting. Although Al Gore handily won the national popular vote, with the Court's intervention, the electoral college was awarded to George W. Bush and Democratic voters were instructed by Republicans to just "get over it."
In 2000, the militant and hyper-divisive Tea Party did not exist. Today, they do. What role would an alleged grassroots, militantly-conservative Tea Party play in the aftermath of three dead-heat state vote counts? One can only guess. Given the heightened divisiveness in our electorate brought on in part by the radicalized Tea Party Republicans.......can you imagine a scenario....given my hypothetical.....where the country emerges stronger and more united.....whatever the final outcome?
Furthermore.....and although unlikely.....what if Romney wins the popular vote and yet after the 3-state recount and accompanying turmoil, if not outright hysteria, Obama ekes out a narrow electoral college win? What then? Will Tea Partiers just "get over it?"
I hope that my hypothetical does not happen.....but if it should, and the electoral planets align, I don't think our divided country would survive without permanent damage being done. Should Obama win a microscopically close election or be awarded re-election by the courts...the last 4 years of continual Obama-bashing, congressional obstructionism and GOP unwillingness to compromise, will all seem like child's play in comparison.
Should Obama win under such circumstances after winning by 7% in 2008.....half of the population would openly reject him even being president. Would the Tea Parties gather in D.C.....and stay there...until Obama steps down as an illegitimate president?
Obama won big in 2008. And yet, radicalized conservatives rejected his presidency from day one. Given that reality.....what would those same even more radicalized conservatives do if Obama lost the popular vote and barely squeaked out an electoral college win? Do you foresee the Tea Partiers just "getting over it?" Me either.
On the other hand....if Obama would happen to win the popular vote, ala Gore 2000, and then have the electoral college awarded to Romney by judges....that would mark 2 presidential elections in 12 years not decided by American voters. Should Democratic voters simply "get over it" again?
Either way.....I see a more divided....and bitter....America as a result. A nation irreparably torn apart. A Congress, which barely functions now....incapable of functioning going forward. A president recognized as such by only half the population. In short, a recipe for disaster.