Thursday, November 06, 2008

Politics As Usual

Things are getting nail-bitingly close here. The senatorial race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken is down to less than 400 votes. In a world where President Obama has been declared a landslide winner, the Senatorial race in traditionally Democratic Minnesota is too close to call.

Less than 400 votes out of 2.9 million cast. The election has not been called by any media outlet, nor has it been certified. Minnesota has a law that when an election has less than a one half of one percent margin, the ballots are automatically counted. This margin is far smaller than that.

And yet--Norm Coleman has declared victory. He has declared victory in a press conference, he has declared victory on his web site. Furthermore, he has called for Al Franken to waive his right to a recount, claiming that that odds of overturning the result are extremely low.

I hate this about politics. Sure, intellectually, I understand this--declare yourself the winner, and a surprising number of people will believe it. Hell--the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Florida recount would constitute irreparable damage to the winner--George Bush. You'd think that people smart enough to be on the Supreme Court would understand that until the recount was complete, it was premature to call George Bush the winner. But the tactic confused even them.

So if you are Norm Coleman, why not try it? It worked so well for Bush in 2000. Plus, he gets to plant the idea in people's minds that he is the "real" winner. Furthermore, he has been canny in playing the "tax and spend Democrat" card, by claiming that by NOT waiving the recount, Al Franken is wasting taxpayer money in demanding the arduous task of recounting.

But the margin! It was thought to be around 800 on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening it was closer to 300. Shouldn't Norm be certain he has won before he calls Franken a sore loser?

NO! Because in politics, perception is at least half the reality. If Minnesotans become convinced that Norm is the "real" winner--then he wins.

I understand it, but it still makes me want to go rinse my mouth out with Bailey's Irish Cream to get the bad taste out.

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