If anyone tells you that one vote doesn’t matter, go to Yahoo! News or Google News this morning and search for “too close to call.”
Here are just some of the 2010 election results that haven’t resulted in a winner:
Three Senate Races Too Close to Call: According to Brody Mullins of The Wall Street Journal blog, “A day after voters headed to the polls, three key Senate races remain too close to call. In Colorado and Washington, the incumbent Democratic senators are clinging to tiny leads with most of the precincts reporting, according to the AP. In Alaska, the AP tally shows Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski leading her two opponents in an unconventional bid to win a write-in campaign after she lost the Republican primary.”
Sink-Scott Battle Too Close to Call: According to Steve Litz, Amara Sohn and Brian Hamacher of NBC Miami, “The contentious battle between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott to become the next governor of Floria remained too close to call early Wednesday morning as both candidates held out hope they’d emerge as the winner.”
IL Governor’s Race Too Close to Call: According to Kim Hudson of FOX2now.com, “The race for Illinois governor is still too close to call the morning after Election Day. Democratic incumbent Governor Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bill Brady each have 46 percent of the vote.”
Video: Oregon governor race is too close to call: According to Peter Wong of StatesmanJournal.com, “Neither Democrat John Kitzhaber nor Republican Chris Dudley claimed victory or conceded defeat Tuesday night in what was shaping up as the closest contest for Oregon governor in more than a half-century.”
Blumenthal takes Senate, Gubernatorial race too close to call: According to Jeremy Stanley of the University of Hartford Informer, “Richard Blumenthal has declared victory over Linda McMahon in the Senate race in Connecticut, but as election night dragged on, no winner in the race to decide governor could be declared. Blumenthal wins an election that was a very tight race in polls leading up to Election Day. The gubernatorial election between Tom Foley and Dan Malloy remains without a clear victor.”
Maine governor’s race too close to call: According to UPI.com, “Republican Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler were in a too-close-to-call race for governor of Maine early Wednesday, returns indicated. LePage, mayor of Waterville, a town of about 15,000, had 182,499 votes, or 38 percent, with 87 percent of precincts reporting, while Cutler, a lawyer, had 176,055 votes, or 36.6 percent.”
Race to fill Vt. governor’s seat too close to call: According to Dave Gram of The Associated Press, “With a governor’s race too close to call hours after the polls closed, Vermont lawmakers – not voters – could find themselves picking the winner.”
NY 24th Congressional District race too close to call: According to Al Robinson
of the Towanda Daily Review, “As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the race for the 24th Congressional District seat in New York between Democratic incumbent Michael Arcuri and Republican challenger Richard Hanna remained too close to call.”
Decisive victory for McCain, CD 7, CD 8 too close to call: According to Dylan Smith of TucsonSentinel.com, “While Pima County returns are still trickling in, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords holds a narrow one-point lead over GOP challenger Jesse Kelly in CD 8. At 2:55 a.m., Giffords led by 2,500 votes.” He added, “In CD 7, Rep. Raul Grijalva is nearly tied with Republican challenger Ruth McClung, leading by three points. At 2:55 a.m., Grijalva was up by 3,500 votes.”
Oliverio-McKinley Race Too Close to Call: According to Stacy Moniot of WBOY-TV in West Virginia, “Republican David McKinley and Democrat Michael Oliverio fought for the seat in the First Congressional District. A long night of waiting until the very last vote was counted ended without any real answers.”
State Comptroller Race Remains Too Close to Call: According to Andrew Grossman of the Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis blog, “The race for comptroller (in New York) was too close to call late Tuesday night, with Republican Harry Wilson hanging on to a small lead over current Democratic Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.”
Arizona Medical Marijuana Bill Still Too Close to Call: According to Niki D’Andrea of the Phoenix New Times blog, “As we reported, more than 70 percent of precincts have delivered voting results — and Proposition 203, Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Initiative, is losing by a narrow margin. As this is being written, Prop 203’s down by less than a percentage point.”
If you want to figure out what all this means, check out “What You Missed: Midterm Elections in 7 Minutes.”
So, what does all this mean? It means that the United States is as closely divided in 2010 as it was back during the presidential election in 2000.
That election night, the returns in a handful of small-to-medium sized states, including Wisconsin and Iowa, were extremely close. Nevertheless, it was the state of Florida that determined the winner of the election.
As the final national results were tallied the following morning, George Bush had clearly won a total of 246 electoral votes, while Al Gore had won 255 votes. But 270 votes were needed to win.
Two smaller states — New Mexico with 5 electoral votes and Oregon with 7 electoral votes — were still too close to call. However, it was Florida with 25 electoral votes that the news media focused their attention on. Mathematically, Florida’s 25 electoral votes became the key to an election win for either candidate.
Although both New Mexico and Oregon were declared in favor of Gore over the next few days, Florida’s statewide vote took center stage because that state’s winner would ultimately win the election. The outcome of the election was not known for more than a month after the balloting ended because of the extended process of counting and then recounting Florida’s presidential ballots.
On December 12, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 vote that the Florida recounts could not be completed before a December 12 “safe harbor” deadline, and should therefore cease and the previously certified total should hold. The Supreme Court’s decision was an unsigned or “Per Curiam” ruling; the ruling was “limited to the present circumstances” and could not be cited as precedent.
The net net: Every vote counts. That was true 10 years ago and it is still true today.
What has change is digital media. Candidates from both political parties now use Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to inform, persuade and remind voters. But candidates from both political parties can still use television, newspapers, radio, direct mail, the telephone, events, and door-to-door canvasing, too.
This makes it very hard to determine the impact of digital media on the outcome of an election — something that I discovered during my coverage of UK Election 2010: Lessons Learned from Watching First Social Media Battle of Britain.
It is especially hard when so many of the 2010 election results in the United States are still too close to call the morning after.