Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not always to the swift

At last the Presidential contest is over, and a joint victor has been declared.

I extend congratulations to my former opponent Ellen Bischoff -- who made a courageous, daring, and above all foresighted bid for the lead position -- and now shares with me the complete absence of any reward whatsoever, other than the satisfaction of seeing our names mentioned repeatedly on Mark Evanier's blog. At no point did Ellen stoop to mudslinging, character assassination, or dirty tricks, despite ample opportunities. The mutual respect and civility we have shown one another makes it much easier for us to come together now as co-recipients of this honor.

Congratulations also to my runners-up Michael Kilgore, Kris Mandt, Cory Strode, Corey de Danann, Tony Thomas, Roger Green, Bill O'Brien, Michael Hagan, Bob Claster and Anand Kandaswamy. Judging by the fact that we all selected the same number, I can only conclude that each of you is an insightful and discerning individual. Had I not decided to enter the race and then beaten you all, one of you would be accepting this win in my place; I'm certain you would be as gracious and humble about this honor as I am now.

For the benefit of future historians, the hard-fought campaign began here, with further developments recorded here and here. However, I need to address something Mark says here, where he attributes to me this description of the winning strategy:

A lot of us arrived at our guesses by figuring out which states might go black and not go back, and how many electoral votes each represented. Richard may have beaten us all by, he says, picking a number that just sounded about right.

Obviously, this needs to be cleared up. By the time of the Democratic National Convention in August, I was reading every day, as I do every year when the election season begins. I added the now-indispensable to my daily political reading immediately after all-star statistician Nate Silver appeared on the Colbert Report. So my choice followed several weeks of closely reading analyses made by highly informed people extremely skilled and crunching numbers and interpreting data. It was a guess, but I'd prefer it to be characterized as an informed guess rather than simple blind chance.

All that said, I indicated to Mark at the Big Apple Con that I felt a bit guilty about being in the lead of his poll because my choice was more wishful thinking than a serious projection: I was certainly hoping the electoral votes would break down somewhere close to where I placed them, but on an emotional level I didn't really expect it would happen. That wish was not for the sake of Barack Obama becoming President (he could have done that just as well at 271 electoral votes) but because I was hoping against hope that voters would repudiate McCain for the clumsy, ill-considered, and frequently offensive campaign he conducted. In other words, it wasn't so much about wanting Obama to win decisively as wanting the McCain campaign to lose thoroughly. Mark tells me he's been hearing this from a lot of people. Neither of us is surprised.

Now that the contest is over I can finally relax and enjoy my shared triumph, as indeed may all America. I hope Ellen will accept this post in lieu of the traditional congratulatory telephone call. And now, on to the victory party!

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