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All-Night Party at the White House

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The spontaneous Obama party on the streets of Washington, D.C., roared past midnight, past 1 a.m., past 2 a.m., with all the centripetal forces driving the revelers to Lafayette Park across from the White House.

It was an explosion of joy. Strangers hugged. People danced in clusters. The air became saturated with the sound of honking car horns from all points of the compass. Police stayed back, barely perceptible on the periphery. The White House itself was darkened, with hardly a sign of life. But people called toward the president's house anyway, and chanted. One group started a song:
Na na na na
Na na na na
Hey hey hey
Gooodbyyyye.

At about 2:15 a.m., there were maybe 1,000 people, possibly more, still going strong.

They'd started, many of them, at 14th and U Streets, or in Adams Morgan, or Dupont Circle. Word got around that the White House was the place to be. You didn't need to be told: You could see people streaming in that direction on all the major arteries of town.

How long would this last? If there was even a flicker of fatigue in the crowd as the hour grew late, no worries: Reinforcements were on the way. You could hear them far up on the 16th Street, heading south. There were hundreds of them. Call it an even 500. They were Howard University students.

The students stayed in a pack, shouting with glee. One group split off at the corner of 16th and L streets and began an impromptu drumming session on some empty newspaper boxes, the metal containers resonating nicely in the hours before they'd be filled with papers headlined, "Obama Makes History."

In front of the White House, the celebrants came up with a new chant to direct toward the mansion: "Pack! Your! S--t!"

Roland Washington and Carole Stovall, a political consultant and a psychologist, respectively, came to the White House thinking they could have a quiet, contemplative moment to think about their departed fathers, who had always believed, they said, in the promise of equality in America. They wanted to ponder how their fathers would feel had they lived to see the election of an African American president. Then they found themselves in the middle of a party.

They were loving it.

"This was my father's dream," Stovall said.

"It's a spiritual moment. It's like One Love. You couldn't have designed a more diverse crowd. People wanting to touch strangers," Washington said.

Tyrone Celey, a Metro employee, said, "It's like the Million Man March. It's magical."

Finally, at about 3:20 a.m., the honking on the streets began to fade. The crowd dwindled. This was, after all, a Wednesday morning, a work day, a school day.

But a day unlike any that America has ever seen.


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[Cross-posted from The Trail, now renamed "44."]

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 5, 2008; 11:23 AM ET
 
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Comments

And Mudge honked his car horn.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

this signing in business is very irritating!!!

party on!!!!

Posted by: MissToronto | November 5, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

reposting the tune cootie of the day...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXlJcuDdx-8

Posted by: LALurker | November 5, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sorry those photos are so sucky. MUCH better ones on our site by real photographers.

Posted by: JoelAchenbach | November 5, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Nonsense, Joel. They have the immediacy, the insouciance, the je ne sais quoi, of being in the midst of the throng. Also, they're much better than I would have done. The energy is just palpable. It must have been overwhelming to be there.

Reposting:
More thanks, this time to Achaiku (love the handle!), DNA Girl and Engelmann (SonofCarl) for the poesy. I didn't have the brainpower to even think of rhymes yesterday.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

there not too bad... although the last one looks like the building is on fire through the windows :)

Posted by: MissToronto | November 5, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Joel, you should try some self portraits in future... they're a hoot... hold the camera away with one arm, and practice taking your own photo, plus anyone else standing close by. Works best with a Canon EOS 5D!

Posted by: MissToronto | November 5, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Hi Boodle. I'm exhausted but happy! And YES! Glenn Nye won in this previously very RED district.

Quick- the boodle is the source of the best info. I have a co-worker ( she watches Fox News) who came in today and said that she was disturbed because "they" are not counting absentee ballots this year "because the election wasn't close this year and they don't count them when it's not close." I think this is a Fox News distortion of something but I don't know what! Anybody got any ideas about where I can link to disabuse her of this notion? I don't know why I care, but I can't help myself, I want to set her straight.

Posted by: Kim1 | November 5, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

What great snapshots of a historic night. Well done, Joel.

Plus, extra points for using the term "centripetal."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Tears...again. Thank you.

Posted by: MeganInSeattle | November 5, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Kim... in Virginia (at least around here) absentee votes are counted along with the other votes on election day. I think they are considered a separate precinct in each district.

That's a long-standing rumor, but I don't think it's true around the country at all.

I may be completely wrong, but I think what she's hearing is a distortion of the idea that if someone is ahead by xx votes and there are only x absentee votes left to count.... why bother? But I understand they are counted along with the election-day votes.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 5, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

RD, I was thinking about Joel's invocation of centripetal forces and admiring it as well.

Though some wags would suggest that you can't have "centripetal" without 'tripe'.

Personally, I might have gone with slighly different imagery. Perhaps an acretion disc around the White House, with an Event Horizon at the Cheney Radius, roughly corresponding with the WH security fence.

And President Obama, going there in a couple of months with one big step for a man, one giant leap...boldly going...

I better put the 60's references away before I hurt myself with them. It's *waaaay* too soon to pull that stuff out.

Or is it?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

In Florida, the absentee ballots are not counted unless the difference in votes between the 2 candidates is less than the number of ballots. Drove me crazy in college.

Posted by: vieve11 | November 5, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

A three-parter coming (d@mn you, bot counter, this is all your fault)

For the past two months or so, I’ve had this fantasy about what I’d do if I was advising Obama what to say for his inaugural address on Jan. 20. Here’s my fantasy/suggestion:

Normally, the new president just gives a flowery address. I propose that instead, Obama start of with the usual introductory stuff, and then say: “The problems we face are urgent. In fact, they are so urgent and so important, we can’t wait until to tomorrow to get started. We can’t afford to take off the rest of today, and spend this evening celebrating at inaugural balls and parties… at least, not until we accomplish a few things first.”

Obama gestures to an aide, who comes forward and hands him a folder filled with documents. Obama takes the folder and opens it on the lectern. Then he resumes speaking.

“As the duly sworn President of the United States, I hereby issue the following Executive Order: From this moment, torture, and waterboarding, and all the other forms of illegal, immoral, and despicable practices associated with interrogation will be stopped. Any violation of this order will be treated as a criminal act, and prosecuted accordingly.” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

“Second, tomorrow morning the White House will send to Congress legislation asking that all such interrogation be banned, not just by my executive order, but by law.”

“Third, I hereby order that all prisoners held in Guantanamo shall receive immediate medical treatment and care, as needed, that they be allowed to receive visits from attorneys as well as relatives, all under due and proper surveillance, as well as inspections by any and all international agencies that wish to do so.” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

“Fourth, I hereby order than all prison and interrogation facilities be shut down within 90 days, and that the Naval Base at Guantanamo revert back to its pre-Iraq duties and functions.” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

“Fifth, I hereby appoint a Special Commission to oversee the shut-down of the prison facilities at Guantanamo as well as find a solution of what to do with prisoners in U.S. custody. I hereby appoint as chairman of this commission the one man in the entire United States whose bona fides regarding this question are unimpeachable: Sen. John McCain.” [signs paper, and hand delivers it to McCain, who is on podium] “I also appoint to this commission (X, Y, Z, etc., two-thirds of whom are Republicans but moderates such as Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, Colin Powell and Arlen Specter. Let the GOP clean up its own fording mess…and let them take the flack). [signs letters of appointment and gives to aide or distributes to people on podium if present.]

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Nope, I can do it in two: here's Part Deux:

“Next, I hereby order that all records, both physical and electronic, from the Bush White House as well as Cheney’s office as well as his home be turned over immediately to federal Marshals for safekeeping. Most especially this includes all e-mails records going back to the year 2000.” [signs order and hands it to aide.]
“Next, I hereby rescind any and all pardons granted by President Bush to outgoing members of his administration, including the pardon he gave himself. Further, I hereby order incoming Attorney General [fill in name] to immediately launch an investigation into various White House activities [give list].” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

“Next, I hereby order Gen. David Petraeus and his staff to immediately begin drawing up plans for a wind-down and withdrawal from Iraq, with the goal of being effectively out of Iraq within 18 months to two years. I also hereby establish a Special Commission composed of military officers as well as military affairs specialists, Secretary of Defense Gates, and other political figures, to begin meeting immediately to come up with a plan to wind down the war in Iraq and relocate whatever troops are necessary to Afghanistan. This commission will report its recommendations to me in 60 days. Appointed to this commission are [Shinsecki, Mullins, Odierno, Carl Levin, Colin Powell, etc. Once again, let the military clean up the mess and keep the civilians out of the flack zone.].” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

“Next, I hereby appoint former President Bill Clinton as czar and special envoy tasked with the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In this job Pres. Clinton has a complete free hand and a virtual blank check to do as much as he can, as fast as he can, to do what the Bush Administration seemed unwilling or unable to do. In particular, with the housing market in a slump and so many housing trades workers, carpenters and plumbers and electricians out of work, the Clinton Task Force is empowered to create a Works Projects Administration type of ad hoc agency, a domestic housing SWAT team, to go to new Orleans and begin work immediately.” [signs order and hands it Clinton.]

“Next, I hereby order that the passports of VP Dick Cheney, David Addington, Karl Rove, etc., be confiscated and that they not be allowed to leave the United States. Further, I am ordering the General Accountability Office, in conjunction with the Dept. of Justice, begin an immediate audit and investigation of Halliburton, Blackwater and other defense contractors in Iraq, with a view toward swift indictments and prosecution for fraud, as necessary.” [signs order and hands it to aide.]

[Addresses other issues and problems that need immediate attention, and hands out other orders as necessary.]

Now, wouldn’t THAT be an inaugural address to knock yer socks off?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Uh, and add to the list tearing down the fence along the Mexican border but doubling or tripling the INS force; abolishing NSA wiretapping, rebuilding the EPA, requiring that all vehicles be hybrids within 5 years, and other items.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Awesome Mudge! I suggest you send this off to Obama today. BTW, it's Shinseki w/o the c.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | November 5, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Aloha. Correction noted.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dispatches Biden and Sec. of State Lugar to Iraq immediately to terminate the war, and get limited incursion rights and air space over area of Pakistan where bin Laden is.

Rename aircraft carriers Reagan and Bush. That was despicable from day one.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

bc;

Tune cootie? Am I just a crazy guy?

You bet.

:-)

'Mudge, ya started real strong, but at the end you were doing your best Steven Tyler karaoke... ;-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Umbrage fatigue, Scotty.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I know, my friend, I know. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, thanks for your reference to RFK in the last kit. You put words to the feelings I had after the declaration that there was a President-elect.

Posted by: -jack- | November 5, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I just listened to Bush's speech, and combined with certain elements of McCain's I'm starting to pick up a coherent narrative from the Republicans that, unfortunately, meshes well with what some on the left have been saying.

The narrative seems to be that this election has been about nothing but empowering blacks. It doesn't represent an indictment of Republican policies as much as a fulfillment of the civil rights movement.

It's basically claiming that Obama just won because he's black. And I find this really demeaning and offensive.

Look, I'm tickled that that we have a President who looks like Obama. It says some good things about this country. But we can't forget that what this is really about is the victory of intelligence and reason over ideology and fear. For by buying into the notion that it's just a celebration of civil rights, the incentive to support Obama in the fights to come will be lost.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Michael Chriton has passed away...I always enjoyed his work.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/michael-crichton-dies/?hp

Posted by: -jack- | November 5, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff?

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2008/11/emanuel_named_white_house_chie.html

Thoughts?

I like it. Obama will need someone to herd the (congressional) cats.

Posted by: astromom | November 5, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Kim-From what Ma Frostbitten reports, I think Thelma Drake is perpetuating that absentee ballot misconception herself. In Virginia most jurisdictions, including your fair city, have established a "Central Absentee Precinct" and absentee ballots are counted and reported just like regular ballots. The VA Atty. General even issued an opinion, requested by the McCain folks, on Oct. 28th saying people in the military who voted on the Federal Absentee ballot (a back up for those who didn't/couldn't get a state ballot in time)would have their votes counted even if their witness's name and address weren't printed on the form.

So, in Virginia it appears it doesn't have to be close for the absentee ballots to be counted and reported.

In Minnesota absentee votes are counted and reported. County auditors must report how many ballot requests they received, how many absentee votes were cast, and the results.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 5, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, Mudge... that doesn't sound like a peaceful transition of power to me.

Keep the stuff about stopping torture and shutting down Guantanamo, but leave out the "off with their heads" until Jan. 24 or 25. That can wait. They can't hide. Unless they can get to the caves of Pakistan.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 5, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't mean to be diminishing the significance of this event when seen through the lens of racial equality, I'm just trying to take the long view.

You folks my age and older remember when Americans landed on the moon? That was exciting and wonderful. But far too many people decided that the purpose of Apollo was over the instant Neil stepped down and flubbed his lines. We had beat the Russians, the thinking went, so why bother spending more money doing silly things like actually, you know, exploring the moon.

As a result the space program lost all its steam after the shouting stopped. T

his is the kind of thing that I don't want to happen with Obama. Celebrate the victory, sure, but this should be the start of an important process, not the end.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 5, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

That's some fantasy, Mudge.

Remind me to tell you some thoughts I had on it when I see you at the BPH tonight.

You *are* coming, aren't you?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I understand your point, RD. Well said. And I like knowing that the color of Obama's skin was basically irrelevant for the nation. We voted for intellect, judgement, hope and change.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 5, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

RD, you've caught precisely the "excuse" for this election. A lot of people, including Rove last night, are rapidly recasting this whole thing as an historic moment which shows how far the United States has come in terms of racial equality.

It is, of course, an historic moment, and I feel it deeply. However, Obama didn't win those white working class votes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana because those white folks were excited to change the paradigm of history. He won because those folks finally got tired of taking the brunt of failed Republican policies. These people are hurt by gas and heating oil prices, losing jobs and insurance as the economy failed, and sending their kids off to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan - sometimes repeatedly.

This election was in fact a referendum on the Bush administration and its priorities. It was about the failure of the politics of fear. Obama, moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats nationwide should not allow this simple fact to become obscured by apologists who hope to resist and impede change.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Before President Obama (that's fun to write) restores habeas corpus I'd like to submit a short list.

Shortish list.

It' more of a scroll really.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 5, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

It's true, Michael Crichton is dead of cancer at the age of 66. Pretty early to check out me think. He got few pretty darn good stories over the years. I liked the early ones better maybe but event some recent ones like Next were pretty decent.

I spent almost an hour in the waiting room of my doctor this morning. It's a bit depresssing, it's always filled of old, unhealthy looking people. Oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

...an hour later...SCC: Crichton

Posted by: -jack- | November 5, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

RDP://It doesn't represent an indictment of Republican policies as much as a fulfillment of the civil rights movement.//

Someone else said that Martin Luther King's dream has come true, and that is right, I think. King didn't dream that someday there would be an African-American president. His dream was that "my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

THAT is what has happened. Obama wasn't elected because he was black or in spite of it. He was elected because more people wanted him to be president, based on his campaign, his presentation, his character, his achievements, his background.

The racist remarks were flying this morning in my office, but there is a real sense that those people's day is over. They are feeling that they are a small minority, and definitely no longer in the mainstream of American culture. Halleluia.

Posted by: kbertocci | November 5, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, bc.

That may be true, TBG. The overall point, though, was to dramatically do what no other president has ever done in aninaugural adress: start work right away, by handing out assignments and orders.

I understand and agree with the points about the election NOT being just a civil rights referendum. However, some of the blame for the interpretation falls upon Obama himself. A lot of Dems (including me) often wanted to see an angrier "Throw the bums out!" tone to the campaign. Obama chose to do otherwise, minimizing that aspect. And last night he didn't mention it either. So it's a bit difficult to emphasize the "Throw the bums out" idea when Obama himself won't do it.

I think what would be a HUGE help would be to just stop reading Karl Rove's remarks and commentary. The man has a constituency only as long as we give him any shrift whatsoever. If we ignore him, we take away his fangs. At this point, who gives a rip what Rove and his ilk think or say? They are discredited losers. Buh-bye, Karl.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

i think we can celebrate obama's win from all angles. i would ignore rove and company. the democrats made huge gains in congress as well, so they can't spin this as only a historic moment in race relations. it was also a rejection of the bush administration and the gop's current way of doing things. the numbers totally prove that.

Posted by: LALurker | November 5, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Our postmaster thinks President Elect Obama has problems with the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, and worries what next-this said to another customer this morning who I know caucused for Hillary and fell in line behind Obama without a blink (the old retired union guy McCain was supposed to be able to draw away.) Had breakfast with a good friend who, despite being sane in every other way, is a one issue voter on abortion and voted for McCain. She admitted relief that Obama won, and has great hope that he'll put off helping the middle class and take care of the poor first. Two guys sitting at the bar, at 11:30AM, are eager for the investigations of the Bush administration to start. This is the Minnesota I remember from long ago, the one where even if they didn't agree-or were terribly misinformed-people talked about politics and government as if it really mattered, as if what they did or didn't do, whether or not they voted, what they said to a neighbor about their concerns and favored candidate, mattered.

Now if I can get one of them to agree to serve on the city council. We had 11 write ins for one seat, but don't know who they are yet.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 5, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Boodlers, I love you all, but I think people are complex and do what they do for a variety of reasons.

Hope, fear, intellect, peer pressure, logic, racial bias, desire for change, desire for things to remain the same, rage, identification with candidates, the issues, physical attractiveness, religious and ethical beliefs, anger, disappointment - anything that can motivate a human to do *anything* went into that moment when we individual Americans pressed those buttons or filled in those spaces on ballots yesterday.

I prefer to think that Obama won because he was the most convincing to the most people that he would make a better President than Sen. McCain -- whatever their reasons for believing so, but even I find that a tremendous oversimplification and perhaps a little naive.

But I'll enjoy it for the moment, and worry about being objective later. Life is to be enjoyed, and these days are ones to savor as we buckle down to work.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Please accept this blog post as an answer to the RSVP of last week concerning the PEBPH -- Post Electional BPH

CqP and RoS will be attending

Carry on.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 5, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

RoS = Rose of Sharon?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The Virginia board of elections Web site shows Tom Periello (D) currently ahead of incumbent Virgil Goode (R) by 30 votes... 157,455 to 157,425. No winner declared yet.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 5, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

No, it's "Rounds of Sweaters", Mudge.

She means her knitting is coming too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

rickoshea, nee Maggie O'D.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 5, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Ricochet?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Last night when Obama was declared the winner, the images on TV (various channels) was of African-Americans jumping up and down - and I thought immediately of the images after the OJ Simpson verdict. So I was glad to see them show more diverse crowds doing the same thing. But the anchors were going on about the "first black president" - which is the obvious, history-making story. But it's much more than that - because that's not why most of us voted for Obama. He was clearly the better choice, partly because of his background, but not solely.

*still jumping up and down inside*

Posted by: seasea | November 5, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh oh, sd, I hadn't even thought of that! My mind kept going toward rickshaw, I think. Or an old flame or something. Nicely done, Maggie darlin'.

Posted by: seasea | November 5, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Seems Biden was off by about six months...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/05/AR2008110502987.html

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

AUSTIN — State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar isn't backing down from her claim that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is plotting with terrorists to attack the U.S.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6092712.html

Ooh, a new member for Sarah and Michelle's Krazy Kristian Klub (Ladie's Auxillary).

Posted by: Boko999 | November 5, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Earlier today, I was castigated for observing that Obama had won the popular vote by thirteen percent, and was assured that he only won by about six percent.

Ummm... McCain got about 56 million votes, and Obama beat him by almost seven and a hlaf million votes, which is about thirteen percent. Is there some other way to look at it? I understand that advance polling numbers aren't reported that way, but I always assumed that's because there's so much uncertainty about turn-out numbers.

I tried to give the example of Candidate A who wins 50 votes, compared to Candidate B who wins 100 votes, in a 150-vote election. It sounds pretty silly to say that Candidate B won by 33% [33% -vs- 66%] when, in fact, Candidate B had 100% more votes than A.

I am right here, aren't I?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 5, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Maggie. Wyincha say so?

(My next guess was Ring of Steel.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Off to work boodle. Let's see if the burden of working with kids whose families don't have a pot to pi$$ in is a little lighter tonight (I'm thinking yes).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 5, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

...followed by Rack of Spareribs.

Ah...um...er...no, Bob. Obama got 52% and McC got 46%. So Obama won by 6 points (percentage points). That's how it is usually framed. (Even though your math is correct, that he got 13% more votes.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Um, no, Bob. You could say his vote total was 13 percent larger than McCain's, but out of the total 100 percent of votes cast, Obama received 52 percent and McCain 46 percent -- a six percent difference.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I get what you mean Bob S. It's treating percentages like absolute numbers, not proportions.

B would have had won with 66% of the vote to A's 33%. That is the correct way to say it. It boils down to a 2:1 vote advantage (which I would prefer to saying that B had 200% the votes A had).


Taking your 56 million +7 million vote example:

Obama won with 112.5% of the votes McCain got. So, yes, nearly a 13% increase, relative to McCain.

But the numbers will show to those who simply subtract numbers that Obama got 7 percentage points more of the total vote than McCain did.

This "percentage" calculation is static; if McCain got 3% and Obama got 10%, it'd still be considered "seven percent points more" even though in ABSOLUTE TERMS Obama would have won 333% the number of votes McCain did, or a 3.33:1 vote advantage.

There's no real way to solve this problem except by improving numeracy in America, or having the media clarify percentages more precisely.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

What Mudge said. Just treat it like football goals or baseball scores, not real math.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 5, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Bob, CP will eviserate me for this, but just think of it as a point spread.

(The kind of point spread they use in knitting, for example, where one group of knitters [let's call them the 49ers] knit 46 percent of the knitty things, while the other group of knitters [we'll call them the Packers] knit 52 percent. So the Packer knitters just stomped the 49er knitters.)

I think. Or maybe not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

For you rickoshea, a comic book from my youth. The intrepid Ric Hochet.

http://www.bande-dessinee.org/bd/bd02.nsf/InterSeries/000612955d1913c1c12563df00564fad!OpenDocument

Nice Merc too. Looks like a late Gullwing. bc?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 5, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Scotty -

Kaplan at Slate has a suggestion for the Russia/defense shield issue. See point 4.

http://www.slate.com/id/2203915/pagenum/all/#p2

Posted by: astromom | November 5, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait, I got it. OK, here it gopes: in the bunker there are 46 doilies, but in the shop steward's office there are 52 antimacassars...

No, that's not going to work.

See, if Melissa owns 46 pairs of Manolo Blahniks, and Sarah Jessica owns 52 pairs of strappy FMPs...

Nope, not that one, either.

Dang, Bob. Maybe you're right after all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 5, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Don't knit the petty things and don't pet the knitty things...

Or something.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Frosti! We knew you'd win, just like Obama! And your percentage is even better than his!

I'm glad to be home and able to sleep in my own bed tonight. Conference is done, finished, over! And successfully, I'm happy to say.

I missed being with you guys. It's hard to catch up when you're hours behind, especially when there's so much important stuff going on.

Later...

Posted by: slyness | November 5, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm off to run an errand and then head down to the BPH.

Toodles, Boodle.
To those I'll see in an hour or so, er, are apologies in order?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | November 5, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

i forgot to say congrats to frosti!

Posted by: LALurker | November 5, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wha'd you do NOW, bc? :-)

I should be BPHin' by 5 as well...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Me too - congrats, frosti! When's your inauguration ball?

Posted by: seasea | November 5, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Yoki | November 5, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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