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Dads at Election Day 2012

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 06-11-2012

Here we are finally at Election Day. This has to be the longest slog to the first Tuesday in November in recorded history. Even we political junkies are tired of the repetition of talking points and downward spiral of the last months. Our kids are tired too. They’ve listened to too many conventions, debates and last speeches. They long ago decided who they would vote for, along with some other choice opinions on the veracity of the candidates and their sartorial choices. They know that they have one more evening of the family huddled around the TV watching election coverage. It all comes down to this. Even though we are also in the middle of watching Harry Potter, The Deadly Hallows Part 2, with only 45 minutes left to go, they know that will have to wait until Wednesday night after all the results are in.

In past years, I’ve taken the kids to the polls with me. Cradled in a Baby Bjorn, or trailing behind in a stroller, I’ve then hoisted them up to see what daddy was doing as I scrutinized the small print of our mainly state and local ballot initiatives here in California. The kids know we take the seriously, studying up for election day the same way they do for a science or history exam. Hopefully, they take away some reverence for this democratic ritual. It’s easy to be cynical about voting since you’re only one drop in an immense ocean of ballots, X’s and chads, but as we saw in Florida in 2000, sometimes it does come down to just a few votes and they really can count, especially for local races and ballot initiatives.

So tonight, we’ll finally see how it all turns out. We had pizza last night so we’ll have to find another suitable TV-watching food for this evening, something that can be nervously nibbled at without being too bad for us. After a decade of nightly salads to combat middle-age bloat, I might need something a big more comforting to get through the night, especially since it will likely be a long one.

My plan for the evening is to get the kids at 3:30 and bring them home. They will start piano practice while I watch the last hour of pre-results coverage leading up to 8PM EST, the witching hour. Apparently, some polls will have already closed by then, so some states might already be in. By 6PM PST, we’ll already be deep into it, but with still 2/3 the country to go. By 9PM PST bedtime, maybe it will already be over but the whimpering, shouting and blaming. The experts say it might take a lot longer than that, into the wee hours, or not until a week later. For a statistical prediction of when the election will be called, check out this video by Bruce Nash, a statistician for the movie industry. He doesn’t make any predictions on who will win, but he does go state by state, based on his modeling and calls when he thinks the winner will be announced. Spoiler alert: Nash thinks you’ll be up until 4AM EST if you want to know who has finally won the big election of 2012.