Our friends Brad and Wendy, who home-school, wanted to give their daughter Millicent the experience of watching election results in a big hotel ballroom filled with people working a tight, suspense-filled campaign.
On Tuesday night, they went to another state. In Manchester, New Hampshire, right over the border, they kept track of that swing state's Presidential votes plus a close race for governor between Republican incumbent Craig Benson and Democratic challenger John Lynch. (Lynch won a close contest which he led all night by about a percentage point.)
Back home in Massachusetts, in North Andover, I was prepared at first to credit early reports of long lines at polling places. This year, the town consolidated all voting at the newly finished high school; polls had formerly been scattered across at least six locations. So half a mile down our two-lane semi-rural street began a traffic jam at the entrance to the high school's quarter mile-long two-lane driveway. I drove through that jam taking the boys to school.
And I drove through it once again later on a grocery errand. It looked a little worse coming from the other way, because cars coming that way had to make a left turn into the school's drive. This time, I had the wit to roll down my window and hail several pedestrians.
"Is it faster voting on foot than by car?" I called.
"Yes," people told me. "There's no line up there at all."
So that's what I did, too. Later, after school was out, I took my older son with me, drove over to a neighboring block where there was a pedestrian bridge, parked, and we walked in. Found my precinct desk competely empty of voters, got done in half a minute, and walked back. By that time, most of the town had figured out the drill, too, and even the cars weren't backed up like before.
Secretary of State William Galvin claimed that 2.9 million people voted in Massachusetts, an unusually large number. Perhaps Bush supporters, determined at least to register their choice, swelled the rolls. I can't imagine any good reason for Democrats here to get worked up about anything. That is, if they won't get worked up about how thoroughly awful Massachusetts Democrats are. ("If the Great and General Court of Massachusetts had a liquor license," Howie Carr says, "it would be closed down as a public nuisance.") And apparently they won't.
We had an unusually short ballot this year. I even flipped it over, looking for more candidates, or some ballot measures. Nope. You know why we don't have ballot measures anymore? Because when we pass them, the legislature won't implement them. We voted to eliminate bilingual education two years ago. The legislature decided we really didn't mean it. They illegally denied us a vote on gay marriage four years ago.
You could literally arrest and jail about three quarters of Beacon Hill -- except that the judges and district attorneys are Democrats, too, and it'll never happen.
Anyway, so on election night I went out about 11, looking for some action. I knew the local pols gathered at the bar at the 99 Restaurant on Route 125, so I checked in. Nothing. Nobody. The TV sets in the bar weren't even tuned to election coverage.
The country rejected Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. As friend Brad would say, "Smaht. Very smaht."
N.B. How many times have you heard media commentators say, "Southern New Hampshire is more liberal because of the number of Massachusetts residents who have moved there, bringing their liberal politics with them." Nonsense! I live right across that border, and Mass. residents are escaping the People's Republic. Look at the two county-by-county USA Today maps, 2004 here and 2000 here. New Hampshire's counties register red all the way up to Concord. The increasing liberalization of New Hampshire is spillover from the west, from Vermont. And Vermont's liberalism comes from New Yorkers who have made that state into a New England theme park for their amusement.