This year, I will be voting for president for the third time in my life. And I've yet to vote for a white guy! Thanks, Democrats. That being said, in 2008, I was mostly un-involved. Growing up in a Republican town in a mostly Republican family, I somehow came out on the left. This useful political quiz informs me that I'm 99% Bernie, 98% Hillary. Yeah, that sounds about right. But in 2008, my political attention span was nil. I was focused on college and my sorority and my summer internship.
I had been introduced to Barack Obama a few years prior when my then-roommate told me he was someone to watch for (she's from Chicago) but for the primaries, I mostly didn't care. I liked the idea of Hillary - the first woman, someone I was familiar with - but thought Obama was exciting too. I lived in a sorority house with seven of my friends: all Democrats but one, Cassie. I remember election night, breaking out wine (contraband in the house!) and celebrating while Cassie sat in the corner, calling us 'bitches' and telling us to 'fuck off.' Ah, Cassie. But that was 2008. The next election was totally a different thing. I was a working adult, living in an apartment in a somewhat affluent suburb (my county went red, the nearby city went blue; so it goes). I had developed a pretty strong Daily Show and Colbert habit. Then the election started up and suddenly I was watching Maddow in the evening, Morning Joe while I got ready in the morning, and compulsively checking the news throughout the day for updates. I spent more money than I'm willing to admit on the Obama campaign. My new Prius got a shiny Obama sticker. Side note - it's still there and I still get made fun of for it at every extended family gathering. So it goes.
What was crazy for me, as my first really tuned-in election, was how quickly it was over. For almost a full year, I was all about the election. It was the thing I most wanted to talk about, the thing I spent most of my internet time reading about. Devouring polls and internet comments and opinion pieces. The election was the reason I created my first Twitter account, the debates my first real 'live tweeting event'. The night of the election was exciting. I stayed up later than usual, switching between The Daily Show, MSNBC, and Fox, incessantly updating my Twitter feed. When Obama was declared the winner, I opened champagne. And then it was the next morning. It was over. All that time and money, all those words written, ideas absorbed, it was over. Obama was the President. All that speculation about election night was suddenly irrelevant.
And now it's happening all over again. I'm obsessed, constantly devouring news online. I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and accidentally spend an hour on Twitter, reading updates. During the RNC, I was scared and frustrated. During the DNC, I was hopeful and optimistic, crying during the speeches, especially Michelle's. It's on the tip of my tongue, I can't stay away from the topic. I honestly don't remember what I did before, what I spent my time contemplating. I guess Hamilton? Even that's political now, the show having organized two Democratic fundraisers. It took some time but I'm all set to vote Absentee in November. It's right after my Italy trip but I still might take Wednesday off so I can watch the results live... And then it'll be over. Hopefully, by November 9th, Hillary is declared the next president and it will be just like 2012. All that speculation, all those think pieces, deemed irrelevant, time to move on. But hey, there's going to be a great book from the Game Change/Double Down guys on this one and I can't wait.
A few things that are extremely helpful during this troublesome time: FiveThirtyEight. The website has been around since 2008. In the 2008 presidential election, it correctly predicted the outcome of 49/50 states and perfected it in 2012, getting the outcomes of all 50 states correct. Their election coverage is superb, covering the chance each candidate has of winning, predicting how much they will win by, and breaking it down by state and electoral votes. There are three ways to look at the data - polls plus (polls data plus information related to the economy and historical data), polls only (just the polling data), and finally, now cast (what would happen if the election took place today). Since the DNC, it's been a place of solace and hope for the Democrats. Mostly, though, the UI is awesome. For example... Note: these were all taken from the polls-only data on August 8, 2016.
Another nice take on the election? Slate's Trump Apocalypse Watch. Updated almost daily by writer Jason Voorhees, it's a subjective take on how likely Trump is to win. Status at time of writing: 1 Horseman.