Excitement Is General

Crowds gathered for the presidential inauguration, 1921 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Excitement is general as we head into the final weeks of the long campaign.  With the presidential race in a dead heat, it’s anyone’s guess who the victor will be.  The candidates receive ever closer scrutiny, waves of analysis rolling in over airwaves and Internet incessantly.  Stalwarts gear up for the final push.

The uncertainty of the race is drawing huge audiences to the presidential debates.  Last night’s debate between President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney is estimated to have drawn some 65 million viewers.  According to Bloomberg, the viewership for the debates has been roughly double what it was for the nominating conventions this summer.

The spontaneity of the response to the debates is unprecedented, too.  Last night during the debate, Twitter recorded over 7 million new tweets, with more than 109,000 recorded during a single minute when the candidates were discussing immigration.  Romney’s peculiar remark about ‘binders full of women’ prompted an immediate outpouring and a new hashtag.  Within minutes, satirical takes on his remarks were available for view on this Tumblr page.

Every age has its own political customs.  The ones we’re using today are making history, too.

Image: Crowds gathered for the presidential inauguration in 1921, from this source.
Click image to enlarge.

6 responses

  1. Susan: I think some people’s guesses are better than others. Three good guessers all indicate that Obama is likely to win. If anyone offered us even money on Romney, we should jump at the chance.

    1. Nate Silver points out that it is still pretty much all about Ohio, and Obama is still up in Ohio:

    Polling average/ 48.8/ 45.3/ Obama +3.
    Chance of winning/ 68%/ 32%/

    2. The University of Iowa presidential market gives Obama about a 2-to-1 chance of winning the popular vote:


    3. London betting markets have Obama up too.

    • Bob–I know; I’ve been following Nate Silver, too. And I saw some coverage about the Iowa market. I do believe these analyses, yet. . . it doesn’t seem over, and in fact it isn’t! Had Obama put in another weak performance last night, I believe the election would be swinging the other way. But mine is just one voice among many–that’s what makes it all so interesting. If we thought our work was over and it were all settled, fewer people would be tuning in for these 11th-hour debates. Cheers and best wishes, Susan

  2. I’ve been keeping up with the Presidential polls pretty closely and I have to disagree with Robert L. The latest numbers—from today 10/18/12—show a very, very tight race in Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin now. Before the first debate, Obama had good leads in all three. A lot of the national polls show Romney ahead by a point or so. Nate Silver on 10/16/12 showed Obama with garnering 284 electoral votes, having lost many. This lead can come down to just one state. . . . Yes, I feel a big excitement, too. It has been a very long political season, and now, just a few weeks away, is the election. . . . A nice article you posted—the kettle is simmering!!!

    • Thanks, Sam. I like a little suspense, but only a little, so I’m reassured that today Obama continues to hold a slight lead. I think that if all who favor him turn out, he will secure a victory. The nation has so much to accomplish, I am eager for the campaign to be behind us. Good to hear from you–have a good weekend!

  3. The “binders full of women” internet phenomenon makes me wonder if we are entering a new great age of political cartooning. While it is true that many of the new images are more purely satirical than purely political, drawing as they do on pop culture references and personal characteristics of the candidates and their surrogates, some of them are quite political. And it is fascinating that they are not created by trained “cartoonists” or vetted by editorial boards, but arise from all corners of the nation.

    • K.W.–It’s certainly easier to riff on unfolding events with the new technology. And following Twitter during the debates is very fun–a perfect vehicle for spontaneous wit that would never have reached us in an earlier day. Have a good weekend! S.B.