November 7, 2012
I honestly don't know how we ever got by with just a plethora of TV stations feeding us data on election night.
Tuesday night, I was finding new ways to keep up with different sources nationally and also keeping tabs on some local races. While checking on our neighbors in Rockdale County, I saw a final tally on the sheriff's race on the website. The incumbent sheriff finished the night with 18 more votes out of nearly 40,000 cast. There are provisional and military ballots left to be counted, but it was a great way to get an instant look at some races that way.
But when it came to the national races -- the White House, Senate and House -- you totally had your choice with a buffet of different sources. We had CNN on in the newsroom, watching Wolf Blitzer go just a little bit crazy when numbers changed in front of his eyes. I put NBC News' video up on my computer and ended up mostly paying attention to that since those guys were calling everything first and accurately.
I knew based on Nate Silver's prediction and his accuracy from 2008 -- calling 49 of 50 states correctly -- that the race would boil down to Ohio and Florida. If President Barack Obama won one of the two, it was going to be hard for Gov. Mitt Romney to win. With those states being very close for a couple of hours, most of the other battleground states ended up coming in first. Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, Wisconsin. They were all going Obama, meaning Romney's path without Ohio and Florida was dropping quickly. I think Minnesota came in right before Ohio. When Ohio was called, it was pretty much like seeing a football team take a 10-point lead with 15 seconds to go. You knew the outcome and were just waiting for it to become official.
CNN, NBC, AP and just about everybody was calling the parties holding on to their branch of Congress -- GOP in the House, Democrats in the Senate -- early on. I was able to track those races pretty well on my iPad at nbcnews.com thanks to the site being designed to run well on a tablet. You could pretty much drill down into any congressional race. None of them around here were much of a contest, so it was fun to look elsewhere and check out what was happening. It was a big night for women in the Senate, with Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin and numerous others coming out on top. The upper chamber is now 20 percent women, its highest total ever.
But my favorite technological innovation had to be CNN's iPhone app. Mitt Romney took forever to get out and speak after about everybody had called it. We were still doing a few things, so I was able to listen to him speak on TV. Romney kept it short, as I'm guessing most losers of such a high-profile race do, and it was time to hear the victorious president.
That's when I started wondering if I would have to wait around to hear his entire speech -- which ended up being about 25 minutes -- at the office and then make the 35-minute trek home. I was not a fan of that idea. In comes the CNN app.
If you subscribe to any of a number of TV providers, you can log in through CNN's app and watch live TV. I signed in using my Dish Network account and had the broadcast on my phone. So I was able to drive home and hear the speech. Don't worry, I didn't really watch the video. I just wanted it for the audio, which is a good thing since I lost the video but had audio a few times. Even if my phone was 4G, I don't think Barrow County is exactly covered yet, even by Verizon.
So between that and all the social media fun -- was Diane Sawyer really smashed? -- it was a unique election experience. I forget how much technology changes in just four years, so there's always something new. Thankfully it was more practical things like TV on your phone instead of the Star Wars-esque hologram CNN used a few years ago. Hopefully that tool has gone the way of the Zune.
Michael Buckelew is a contributing writer for the Gwinnett Daily Post.