Keeping it in perspective

From A Tiny Revolution:

American Landslide

One of the strangest things about US politics is how tiny differences in voting percentages turn into huge differences in party control, and then into gigantic differences in media narratives about Who We Are As A Nation.

For instance, in 2006, the Democrats took back Congress by improving their percentage of the popular vote total 5.4% over 2004, to 53.6%. This was supposedly such a gigantic repudiation of the Bush administration that they kicked out Donald Rumsfeld.

And in 1984, Ronald Reagan won with 58.8%. This was considered an enormous landslide and demonstrated America was deeply conservative. Yet imagine if the election had been decided by just ten voters: all Mondale would have had to do was persuade one of them to vote for him, and he would have been president.

Similarly, it’s unlikely Obama will win tomorrow by more than 10% in the popular vote. Thus, all McCain needs to do between now and then is persuade one voter in 20 to vote for him, and Sarah Palin will be Vice President.

Meanwhile, this is the system we use to decide which person gets the opportunity to destroy human civilization. Perhaps we could invent something better.

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