US Election Watch Down Under – the view from Australia on election day

Australians remained confused on Election Day, with almost everyone I spoke to genuinely wondering who would win – at least until CNN “called” the election at about 3.20pm Sydney time.  The Australian news media continued to do a major dis-service by ignoring real interpretations of the polls.  Typical was Nick O’Malley’s article (front page, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 2012 Australia time) which read “So close the result could take weeks”.  The online version of this article – which also appeared in other Fairfax Press papers – was re-titled to read “Lawyers at 10 paces as US election goes down to the wire”, removing the reference to “take weeks” in the title (although leaving the phrase unchanged in the first paragraph of the article).

I have argued elsewhere in this blog (here and here) that the Australian papers have simply missed the game.  As I told everyone I met this morning (Sydney time) that Obama would win, later in the day some people looked at me like I was a true genius for my “risky” prediction.  I am not a political genius, just a careful reader of polls.

I gave two words as to why I knew Obama would win:  “Ohio” and “Pennsylvania”.  To that I could have added two more: “Chris Christie”.

Why Ohio?  Because Obama had been consistently ahead in the polls in that state for so long.  And because 538 blogger Nate Silver was so convincing about how Obama would win Ohio.

Why Pennsylvania? Because it was not even a “swing” state, but yet Romney made a last-minute visit to the state – referred to by some commentators as a “Hail Mary pass”.  His plane did not need to land there.  Obviously internal Republican polling was telling them that his campaign was having problems elsewhere, presumably Ohio (yes), Virginia (as it turns out, surprising me) and even Florida (surprised again).

Why Chris Christie?  Because this politically astute Republican Governor of New Jersey said some very nice things about Obama last week in the aftermath of “Superstorm Sandy” and allowed himself to have this photo taken of him shaking hands with Obama:

This could have only happened for one reason:  Christie already knew that Obama was going to win; in other words he knew that his party’s nominee Mitt Romney would lose.  So politically this “endorsement by proximity” of Obama would not have a significant political impact.

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