Last night I worked a shift at what turned out to be an election bar. The TVs that are usually tuned to sports or old movies were tuned to CNN to accommodate customers’ requests. I didn’t mind– I wanted to know what would happen as well– but part of me didn’t want to know until it was all over. Get up, look at the headlines, take stock of the damage, take stock of the gains. But as it was, I got play by play from Wolf Blitzer and crew’s subtitles while my Duke Ellington playlist attempted to soothe the rattled nerves of customers and myself.
A few things I noticed:
They sure did spend a lot of time talking about Cruz/Beto.
This race was roughly fifty percent of the total coverage until the time it was called. Lots of thorough analysis of which counties in Texas contain Democrats (a lot of them, actually) and which ones contain Republicans (still more of them, turns out.) I was obviously disappointed in the outcome here– Ted Cruz is the goddamn worst– but not actually surprised. At some point in the race it seemed like Beto was running for President rather than Texas office, and from what I know of Texas (not much, admittedly) I can see how that wouldn’t play with the thin margin of independents, or these “moderate Republicans” that he’d need to win.
A good couple hours of Blitzer pointing towards the suburbs of Dallas and repeating talking points around whether or not enough soccer moms are mad at Trump to cross the aisle was, in some ways, a microcosm of the whole night’s coverage.
Rick Santorum loves talking over people
No surprise there, just another in a long line of hypocrisies from the party that whines about “civility” any time people exercise their constitutional right to disagree with them.
They sure did repeat themselves a lot
So you have these reporters. They’re staring at stats that quite often, aren’t changing for hours on end. I swear, the Florida senate race was 50.3 to 49.7 for my entire goddamn shift. But they still have to find something to say about it. Granted, lots of viewers are tuning in and out throughout the evening, not stuck in a room full of increasingly tipsy politicos, but the number of times analysts said the exact same thing. . . well, I lost count.
They went with “red wall” to describe the Senate results
C’mon guys, no “Crimson Tide?” “Red Wedding?” “Reign in blood?”
There was a lot of arguing about whether or not this was truly a “wave”
This was the part that really made me want to smash my face into a wall. “You can’t call this a wave.” “Yes, you can, it absolutely IS a wave.” “No, there’s no way what we’re seeing here can be considered a wave.” “I, frankly, don’t see how you could call it anything else.”
GUYS. “WAVE” IS JUST THE TERM PICKED BY POLITICAL JOURNALISTS. IT HAS NO TECHNICAL MEANING.
It really just means “got a lot of votes/won a lot of seats.” You might as well argue about whether something is just “awesome” or has achieved “super awesome” status. Treating this arbitrary metaphor like it has any significance other than a cover image for various websites is infuriatingly stupid.
But then again, lots of time to fill.
No one seemed to think it was a big deal that a Democrat won Kansas governorship
Am I missing something? Taking down Trump lackey Kris Kobach? In Kansas? Isn’t Kansas one of those states where Dems don’t even run in half the districts? I could be way off here, but I thought it was super weird how the coverage was like “Over in Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly has won governorship over Kris Kobach. . . BUT NOW BACK TO TEXAS WHERE BETO O’ROURKE IS WALKING ACROSS A ROOM. LOOK AT HIM WALK, WOLF!”
They at least paid attention to Montana
Montana the place is awesome. The sky is huge the mountains are gorgeous and the towns are weird. Montana the place is also politically unpredictable and complex; apparently they looooove Trump out there, but still have a Democratic governor and despite Ole Deplorable’s best efforts, Democrat John Tester still holds his Senate seat, one of two (along with Joe Manchin) red state Dems not to get their walking papers. As the night went on and a lot of the marquee races were decided, you had the same sorts of map close ups on various areas of Montana that you were seeing in Texas and Florida earlier in the evening.
Did you know Montana has a Lewis and Clark county? We’ve got a Lewis County and a Clark county. Fun!
Shots of campaign headquarters are always boring
A bunch of people standing in a room, worried. We got it. Great.
Now the talk about 2020 starts
This is where the panels became almost exclusively held between stated Democrats, trying to decode what the results mean. There’s gonna be a lot of that in coming months, with progressives and moderates staking their own claims to the party. I suspect everyone will have solid talking points, but also that each wing will try to impose a monolithic image of The Party that fits their own.
This is also where the campaigns start in earnest and everyone who’s been claiming they aren’t going to run for president says “PSYCHE!! COME AT ME!”
It’s gonna be a long two years.
Also published on Medium.