My wife and I were eating dinner in the kitchen last Wednesday evening and watching Peter Jennings on the ABC news.
I didn't hear his exact words, but Peter indicated that on the basis of a nationwide poll, ABC had given the election to George Bush."Is that it?" my wife said. "Is it over?"
"Dukakis is a dead fish," I replied.
"Election Day isn't until Nov. 8. How can they announce the results in October?"
"One guy with a clipboard spoke to 10,000 people. Based on those results, Bush has all rights to the White House tennis court."
She seemed shaken. "If the ABC poll is correct, why should anyone vote?"
"You don't have to if you don't want to," I told her.
"You're not taking this seriously. That poll just took my ballot away from me. Why should I go out and pull the lever if I can't make a difference?"
"Look, it had to come to this sooner or later," I told her. "Remember the election nights when they used to concede states to the presidential candidates by 8 p.m.? Now the technique is so refined that they can give you the results in October. It wouldn't surprise me if the next time around they declare the winner on the Fourth of July. I am glad it's over. Bush was starting to turn into a nice guy."
"Are they going to give up campaigning?" she asked me.
"I imagine so. There's no sense spending all that time and money when the results are poll-ordained."
"There is something fishy about this whole thing. Both sides are urging their troops on, the dirty commercials have just been released, and the hecklers are stretched out in the streets. How can anyone declare that the election is over?"
"You can't fight computers. They not only know who lost but why he lost."
"You sound happy they've announced who our next president is going to be."
"I'm not happy about it - I'm just realistic. If we can be informed a month in advance who won, the time will come when we don't have to have an election at all. We'll go out on to the sidewalk, tap someone on the shoulder, and the next day we'll have a new Gipper in the Oval Office."
"I thought we were going to have an election night party," she said.
"We were," I replied, "but I didn't know they would announce the winner tonight. That's the only part about jumping the gun I don't like. The pollsters never give you enough time to stock up on cold cuts."
"Well, what shall we do on Nov. 8 if there is no suspense?"
"There is a lot more to election night than choosing a president. You get to see the families of the winners and losers. The experts will tell what the losers did wrong."