Many Insufficient Returns
By Joel Achenbach
Across the country, people are attending Election Results parties, at which they nibble on snacks and attempt, in vain, to decipher the graphics on CNN. I've dipped into one such event and can report that confusion is rampant both in the living room and on TV. The geniuses at CNN have designed some kind of Christmas tree graphic -- kind of clunky at Bill Schneider's fingertips -- that only the geniuses at CNN can comprehend.
Grasping the subtleties of the Results is particularly difficult when distracted by the snacks, the drinks, the gabbing hordes, the squawking kids, the random fulminations of the serious drinkers, and the bulletins from The Laptop People who perch on a couch in a row like a press corps.
Occasionally there's a report from some distant outpost in the house where apparently the TV isn't drowned out by festivities, to wit:
"Sophie says NBC is showing Ohio leaning strongly toward Obama."
True? And if so, significant?
This is that squishy period of the night when the numbers are so preliminary, the returns so early and eccentric, that in some states Bob Barr still seems to have a fighting chance. What hasn't happened yet: No Kerry state has gone for McCain and no Bush state has gone for Obama. Until then, we're just looking at numbers and graphics and armies of talking heads and wondering what it all means.
Washington Post editors
November 4, 2008; 9:21 PM ET
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