News and Tribune

November 6, 2012

BEAM: When parting isn’t such sweet sorrow

Local columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The end is here! Rejoice my friends! The day of reckoning has arrived! I’m sorry to say the Mayans were wrong. Their calendar’s end should have occurred on NOV. 6 and not Dec. 21. For today, all the partisan ads will run out, the campaign rallies will cease and the political zealots will grow silent once more.

Yes, behold, it’s Election Day! After withstanding nearly 16 months of hard-core campaigning, Americans can finally finish casting their votes for president.

Surpassing the cost of previous campaigns, the price tag on this election hasn’t been cheap. In all, $2.5 billion has been spent by the two candidates. According to CNBC, the campaigns have expended more than $2.3 million each and every day of this election cycle. That figures out to $10.14 per registered voter, or as I see it, two McDonald’s value meals. I’d much rather they had bought me a Happy Meal instead of paying for all those nasty commercials and mailers, but those pesky election laws forbid it. Go figure.

Even with all that money spent, the campaigns end now. Tonight we’ll know who the leader of the free world will be for the next four years. We made it through another election cycle. Let us all take a nice, deep breath.

Well, at least I think it will be over. Of course, I’ve watched too many horror flicks to think the end really means the end. After falling to the ground, the creature normally rises again. And then the sorority girl always forgets to check if the monster has been defeated. It always makes one last shocking comeback toward the end of the movie. I don’t like surprises, especially on Wednesdays in November.

But boy, can it happen. Remember the terror of the 2000 presidential election? That went on for weeks and weeks. My stomach still churns upon hearing of a hanging chad or a mandated recount. “The Walking Dead” has nothing on post-election Florida. I’d take on mindless zombies before I would partisan attorneys any day of the week.

How can we make sure this won’t happen again? We can’t. Check the math with the electoral maps. This election is going to be a close one; too close at present to even wager a safe bet.

As of Monday, had listed 11 states as toss-ups, meaning neither candidate has a clear advantage. These states hold 146 electoral votes. If, as many predict, President Obama and Governor Romney split these states, only one would be needed to presumably determine the election.

Sound familiar? Although this time around, look at Ohio to be the state in question. Right now, computer simulations show the Buckeyes have a 50-50 chance of deciding this election. Bring your mittens to this recount, fellas. It’s going to be a cold one.

Even more interesting, the chance of having an electoral tie is the highest it’s been in recent history. Mind you, that chance hovers around 1 percent, but stranger things have happened. A 2012 electoral projection map shows two possibilities for this scenario to become a reality. Unlike with realpolitics, they only list seven likely swing states. In one model, Obama wins Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire while Romney takes Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa. Tada! Each candidate then only has 269 electoral votes instead of the 270 needed to win.

What happens when a tie occurs and no electors change their votes? The newly elected Congress would decide the winner. Here’s where it gets fun. The Senate would cast their votes for the vice president while the House would choose the president. Democrats currently control the Senate, and likewise Republicans rule the House. If this holds, we could have Romney selected as president and Joe Biden as vice president, which would give bipartisanship a whole new meaning. Although both parties might just think a true end-of-days scenario has arrived.

So, this election cycle might not be over. In fact, our future may be filled with loads of litigation and rolls of recounts. But this evening, I’m hunkering down on the couch and watching the madness unfold on the flat-screen.

Fasten your hanging chads, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

  — Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at hoosiermandyblog