November 8, 2012

The Greatest "Sporting" Event In America

     You can have the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the Stanley Cup Finals.  Election Day in the United States is better than all four of them put together.  (Hyperbole alert:  I really do like the Super Bowl.  But Election Day is certainly better than the other three combined.)

     First you have the fact that every viewer, provided that he or she voted, actually has a hand in determining the outcomes, unlike every other sporting event in which we just helplessly cheer on our team.

     Then there is the sheer amount of stuff going on.  You have the presidential election, senatorial elections, congressional elections, and various referendums.  And then within the presidential election, there are 50 different state elections, four or five of which are incredibly exciting.  As these state elections occur, much like the 130 plays in a football game, they are combined using some arbitrary point system to determine an overall winner, even if it appears that the loser performed better.  And to help us along, we get expert opinions on why things are happening the way they are, different strategies used by each side, and how the current trends will eventually affect the outcome.  Sound familiar?

     I was wondering what the sports analog to the 2012 presidential election would be, and, being first and foremost an NFL fan, the one game that came to mind was the Patriots' 52-28 demolition of the Bills in Week 4 this season.

     Obama went into Election Day as the clear favorite, as did the Patriots that day.  (Maybe not officially, but we all know how good the Pats are.)  Naturally, I was rooting for the Bills, and ended up rooting for the underdog Romney as well.

     The beginning went pretty well for the underdogs.  The Bills took a 14-7 lead into the half, and Romney took an early lead as well and was hanging in there in the battleground states.  But in both cases, there was an uneasy sense that the favorites could take control at any moment.

     The scrappy Bills and Republican continued their momentum, but both showed signs of weakening.  The Bills earned a 21-7 lead, but the Patriots ended the 3rd quarter with 14 unanswered points to tie the game at 21-21, and had driven inside the Bills' 30-yard line.  Romney had made up a 200,000-vote deficit in Florida and narrowed a 10% gap in Ohio to 2%, but the President got a win in Pennsylvania and California's 50+ democratic electoral votes were about to officially hit the scoreboard.

     That's when things got ugly.  New England racked up 31 fourth-quarter points to get a comfortable 52-28 win.  In the election, Ohio was called for Obama despite the fact that Romney would take a lead after that decision.  Then a couple more states came in to put the President at a victorious 270 electoral votes.  I, not believing that Ohio was done, waited until the 290th vote before accepting the loss, because at that point Ohio didn't even matter.  Obama would end up winning 303-206, with Florida pending.

     To summarize, both contests began well for the underdogs, and they continued to provide hope for their fans deep into their respective competitions.  But in the end, things fell apart, and we realized that it was never really that close to begin with.

     Sure, I felt disappointment at the results of the night, but the prevailing feeling was that the election was a heck of a lot of fun to watch.  Having only been old enough to vote since 2008, this was the first election I really got into, and I hope that there will be many more enjoyable ones to come.

(Side note:  Did anyone else notice the ridiculous vote counting system in Wisconsin?  The Republican goes up by 10%, then they call it for the Democrat because Madison and Milwaukee get counted last.  We really need to fix that because it looks absurd.)

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