Election Hangover

By Al Macias
August 30, 2012

Photo by Al Macias
Congressman Jeff Flake, who won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Arizona, is interviewed by a television reporter on primary election night.

PHOENIX -- It’s two days after the 2012 Arizona primary elections. I’ve covered a few of these over the last few decades. I vaguely recall going home as the sun was coming up back in the days of manually counted ballots.

Early voting and the Maricopa County Recorder’s modern tabulating system have made election night coverage much simpler in Phoenix, and way more efficient. There’s enough tension in campaigns and newsrooms on election night without hanging chads.

Unless a race is extremely close, analysts and anchors can usually pick out a trend when the first results are announced around 8 p.m. Instead of having to wait until midnight for ballots to be delivered from the far reaches of the county, most results are in by 10 p.m.

Technology may have changed election night, but some things remain the same. Winning candidates will talk about the issues. (Is there some secret handbook somewhere that says supporters are supposed to wave signs behind the candidate when the TV cameras are on? More often than not, it distracts from the candidate.)

No matter what heinous things they or their supporters said during the campaign, their opponents are honorable men or women. Losing candidates will step up to the podium, often with a tearful spouse, and thank their supporters. Sometimes there will be hundreds, sometimes tens, of supporters looking disconsolate and disbelieving, even though the polls said their man or woman was going to lose.

With modern polling there are fewer big surprises than there used to be, another tool that makes election coverage a little easier.

And when someone announces they are running for office and says, “I’m not a politician,” I consider that the candidate’s first misstatement. If you are running for office, you are engaged in politics and have become a politician.