October 23rd, 2008
06:28 PM ET

Long National Nightmare

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/18/art.mccains.gi.jpg]Steven Stark
The Boston Phoenix

NOVEMBER 5 — Last night, I woke up in a sweat. I'd had a very bizarre dream . . .

There was Wilson over Hughes. And, of course, Truman over Dewey. But there's never been a surprise in presidential politics like the one that awaited Americans this morning, who woke up to discover that, somehow, John McCain had been elected president over Barack Obama.

Not a single poll, tracking or otherwise, had McCain ahead. The articles had all been written: Michael Scherer of Time, "McCain's Struggles: Four Ways He Went Wrong"; Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, "We're Heading Left Once Again"; and Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe, "That's It for McCain." To be fair to them, it was hard to find a single major pundit anywhere who predicted McCain would win - though the astute Michael Barone, author of The Almanac of American Politics, did pen a column 17 days before the vote warning that a surprise was possible. Given Barone's credentials, someone should have listened.

Of course, Wednesday-morning quarterbacking is ridiculously easy, but in retrospect, what happened should have been crystal clear: Obama's lead was never as great as the media hype that accompanied it - he only led by two to six points in some major tracking polls. In several of them, Obama tellingly never cleared 50 percent. (There was a larger-than-usual undecided vote.) And whether it was the so-called "Bradley effect" (suggesting a racial element to the vote) or something else, Obama performed last night exactly as he often had in the spring against Hillary Clinton: he ran below expectations.

Meanwhile, the tsunami of youth support for Obama never materialized. Instead, it was the over-65 crowd who turned out as if the election were a five-o'clock dinner special, and who voted in record numbers for their fellow senior citizen.

"It was fear of the known versus fear of the unknown - and fear won out," quipped one McCain aide.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. ron

    It is time for change.It is time for fear and hate to end. It is time to be the leader that we are. It is time for obama. thanks

    October 23, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  2. Lucy

    Is the a warning of more Repubican Shenanigans?

    I think every single state would be forced to do a recount. We have had enough of the Republicans the past 8 years. However, from all the scandals and how much the Americans have been lied to and manipulated, we won't take it lying down. I hope every single swing state has someone taking exit polls from the major voting areas and everyone programs the "Report Voter Fraud" numbers both locally and nationally in their cell phones. When in doubt make that call.

    I think Obama will very calmly say he will wait for the certified votes or a recount and exercise his rights. Obama is not a dummy which is why he is ahead.

    October 23, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  3. Jeff

    That's the day after the bombs drop and people wake up to a double disaster. The economy in the toilet and a fossil and an idiot at the helm with no hope left for them or the country. But that's just from my point of view. As unthinkable as this may be, the other side may feel exactly the same stunned disbelief as I do with McCain if Obama wins. How did we become so polarized? This division is what Civil wars are made of.

    October 23, 2008 at 9:00 pm |
  4. Mary

    Green always preceeds the downfall of a nation..........

    Something to think about!

    October 23, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  5. Adriana RM Marrietta,Ga

    The racers are still 12 days away from crossing the finish line. it will be a photo finish. I'm crossing my fingers that it will be Obama in the lead.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  6. Carol, CA

    Don't even suggest it........... I hope your nightmare never comes true.

    I keep saying I'm not going to watch TV anymore , but I still do. Everytime I hear that McCain is up a point, or McCain starts some new stupid rumor about Obama, – my stomach is in knots.

    The thought of McCain/Palin winning is sickening. What would that say about the United States? We came so close.......... then backed out and elected the senile, old geezer and the airhead bimbo.

    If they win, it will be because they ran the sleaziest campaign in history or ................ they found a way to cheat.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  7. Terry Boston

    This is for John King
    On our local news tonight (KPAX) in Missoula, MT, they said a poll today showed that if the election was held today that Obama would be elected president and not McCain and it appeared that Montana was going to go Democrat this year.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  8. Kelly

    The only way Obama could lose now is if a lightening bolt struck Palin and turned her into a Rhodes Scholar, and the odds of that happening are nil.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Rose from Muscoy


    You know something that we don't know? You must be a Republican? Whatever turns you on, lady. But I don't believe in the polls either, like you said, ANTHING GOES!

    October 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  10. penny

    "mccain talk about terrorist, why don't he go out and get BIN LADDEN. It appears he is old washed up OLD MAN."

    October 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  11. Dan

    Dear Stephen,

    It sounds to me like you had a really bad nightmare, and I hope that by sharing it with CNN it scares people into getting out to the voting booth! In the meanwhile, to help yourself fall asleep, just sing this lullaby:

    (To the tune of Crystal Gayle's "Don't it Make My Brown Eyes blue")

    "He's Gonna Make The Red States Blue"

    Don't know when John's been so blue
    'Don't know what's come over you?'
    We've found someone new!
    And don't it make the red states blue...

    We'll be fine when they're gone
    They'll just cry all night long,
    "Say it isn't true!"
    And don't it make the red states blue

    They told us "straight talk", then told us some lies
    Gave us no reasons, fed us Freedom Fries
    Told us they'd help us, but didn't even try,
    Said anything to win, so we said "goodbye!"

    The GOP is lookin' so bad
    Maverick Moose Hunter in Gucci is clad,
    But, Obama's change we'll do!
    And don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states

    Don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states blue

    Don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states
    Don't it make the red states blue

    October 23, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  12. wally...CT

    I have to say the media must think the american people are ignorant. They are so one sided that it's sickening.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  13. Juan Perez

    Looking Good Sara!! Not bad for a cool $150,000. Hey Joe The Plumber looks good,too!!

    October 23, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  14. Ann

    The media should do their job which is to fairly and objectively report on BOTH candidates. Instead of covering Obama in Berlin as if he'd already won and was on a Presidential tour, instead of letting him have 30 minutes of air time next week as if making a Presidential address, I'd much rather see the media do some investigative reporting and ask Obama "how exactly did your campaign get $150 million in donations in one month?" "we'd like to see the list of contributors who make up this $150 million"....once you have the list how about knocking on some doors, confirm for sure that Joe Smith on the list from Main St, Anywhere USA REALLY did make that $99 contribution. I've become very disillusioned this race with the way it became very apparent early on that the media was biased in favor of Obama.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  15. Larry

    Reminds me of the dram that whoopi expressed on The View when she said that she woke up from a dream where Barack was married to a white woman; then she said she realized that Barack had actually married the blackest woman she had ever seen.
    Would his having married a non-AA made any difference; he is half white on his mom's side. That raises an interesting question; what if his father had been white and his mother black. Would that have had an effect on his political career? Is having a black father/white mother viewed differently than having a black mother/white father? That would be an interesting topic.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  16. Jt from TN

    I would be a little disappointed if that dream came true but reality is MCcain has a lot of work to do if he's gonna win. According to the electoral map he needs one or two states leaning obama to lean his way but if he wins i'll be just as supportive.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  17. David

    Obama ahead now means nothing. As we all know alot can change in the next 10 days.

    We live in Oregon with mail voting only. We have our ballots on the table but we will not fill them out until Nov 4 because things could change.

    In our opinion that is why Obama is so desperate to get people to "early" vote. If they vote now and something comes out negatively toward him or Mr. Biden they would be unable to change their vote.

    With that said, I don't like either candidate- to me it's a choice of two evils, they both suck.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  18. Keith

    I won't lose much sleep on Election Night; no matter who wins we are facing a lot of trouble. I don't react to polls...just a political tool to steer the masses.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  19. Jeff Romanowski

    John McCaine is distorting the truth about small business!
    I am not Joe The Plumber! But I do own a small business! Regarding the $250,000 small business tax. I would need to generate almost $600,000 or more in revenue to give myself a $250,000 paycheck, due to expenses that would offset anything close to $250,000. That is Big Business???? I can’t think of any small business that would claim $250,000 of income? Therefore I agree with Obama that 95% of Americans do not make over $250,000

    October 23, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  20. Kitty, Canada

    It's not even Halloween yet and you gave me a fright! That would truly be a nightmare. Here's hoping you have a better dream tonight.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  21. DeDe in CA

    I've heard that dream before...no wait...that would be the morning prayer I've been saying for the last 2 months. "Please God let McCain and Palin get through to more people today, and let there be a very large silent majority that we just aren't hearing about".

    Obama does scare me. He scares me because of the media support. The media has turned into a cult.

    Sorry, I just don't understand the attraction. I sometimes wonder if I am the only one listening "to the words" that are coming out of this man's mouth.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  22. Marylou

    the only poll that counts is election day. Win or lose, just so its not stolen, again.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  23. Phebe

    That wasn't a dream......it was a nightmare.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  24. Candace Grube / Corona, CA

    When is someone going to ask the question regarding his plan on foreclosed homes ??

    McCain said his plan is to purchase the toxic mortgages at full value and then discounting them to the current value for the troubled homeowners, thus benefiting the banks again and those homeowners.

    Even if McCain purchased the toxic mortgages at the current value of the homes and then turns around and refy’s the mortgages down to the current values of the homes for these troubled homeowners it will create a disaster.

    What about the homeowners that purchased a home in the past 3 ½ years that are not in foreclosure but have mortgages that are higher then the current value of their homes ??

    Is McCain going to refy all the mortgages across the country so that every American receives the benefit of gaining back the equity in their homes from a devalued refy ??

    I have actually spoken to many people that really think that McCain cares about the middle class and is going to bail them out. Where has all the common sense gone ??

    October 23, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  25. Joy in Seattle

    Last I checked, both Gore and Kerry were leading Bush in the polls.
    Last I checked, polls in the primaries weren't reliable.

    I don't trust the polls. The only poll that matters is on Nov 4th.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  26. David Brickner

    It is an unsettled time in America.......People want "change', but change from what.??? Most people who say they would never vote for a woman VP vaguely remember that THEY voted for Walter Mondale! (think about it!) Who was Dukakis's VP ........don't remember do ya???
    Many Americans have no long term memory and a very short attention span. They aren't sure what anything IS right now so they don't really know what change will be.........they just want IT! The fact that Obama is anywhere close to Mccain in the polls says a lot about the lack of historical awareness of the average voter ....and a little about the lack of "glamour' appeal of McCain. Obama is like the latest Iphone...it's new and cool and I want it.........etc etc ....... very shallow............

    October 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  27. Franky, Chicago IL

    "There was Wilson over Hughes. And, of course, Truman over Dewey. But there’s never been a surprise in presidential politics like the one that awaited Americans this morning, who woke up to discover that, somehow, John McCain had been elected president over Barack Obama."

    LOL!!! I can only imagine how that dream, went huh? LOL!!

    But to be fair, Senator MCCain is a good man. I know him very well.

    Man, I gotta say, that other article was deep! LOL!!! It got me being nice! LOL!!

    October 23, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  28. Joy

    I heard the rest of the conversation between Obama and "Joe the Plumber". Obama said as an example to "Joe the Plumber".: At 250K a year there would be a 3% tax increase for the business, and a 15% tax cut if healthcare coverage was offeres by the company. Joe's business would get a 12% tax cut.

    Spread the wealth: Give middle class a tax cut it gives them more money to be able to afford services like plumbing, electrical. As Obama told Joe the plumber, if he'd have gotten a tax cut 10 yrs. ago, he could have bought a business sooner.


    October 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  29. Sara

    No worries. Obama has already booked the venue and made preparations for his "inevitable" victory. I'm surprised no one has talked about the $2M he has spent to prepare for his victory bash. Then again, why would you report on this....it'll just make Obama look presumptuous and we wouldn't want that.

    October 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  30. Cindy

    Polls mean nothing. You can get a result and twist it to fit your agenda every time. Plus no one ever tells the truth on those things. Once they get into the voting booth they go with their gut and not what everyone else thinks that they should do.

    The media has all but given this race to Obama. But the truth is Obama isn't way out ahead to make them say that. Anything can happen and most likely will. The media needs to stop trying to think that they know it all and let the voters decide who we want as president.


    October 23, 2008 at 6:42 pm |