by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
May 7, 2008
IT'S 12:54 A.M. - DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE VOTES ARE?
BRADENTON, Fla., May 7, 2008, 1:06 A.M. ET -- With the nation's political junkies hanging on the edge of their seats to learn the outcome of the Democratic primary in Indiana yesterday, the folks at CNN are getting pretty angry about the absence of the last 5 percent of the votes from Lake County, Ind., a suburb of Chicago whose partial numbers have gone heavily to Sen. Barack Obama.
"What I don't understand is why the boxes at the precincts were tallied and counted and released ... Why did we not get smaller increments of returns earlier in the day?" CNN's top political reporter, John King, asked a tired-sounding Mayor Rudy Clay of Gary, Ind., the biggest city in Lake County. When the mayor answers, King asks the same question, or a variant, again.
"We have an election board here that's doing a tremendous job of counting 11,000 [early] voters, and that's more than we've ever had in this county," he replied, speaking through a heavy veil of truculence about the difficulties of countng a wave of early voters that apparently overwhelmed his clerks.
But if you do the math, with Clinton leading 606,497 to 589,888, or 51% to 49%, you begin to understand the magic of the Daley School of Politics that beat beat Richard Nixon in Chicago 48 years ago. Tonight, Barack and Hillary are separated by just 16,609 at 1:06 A.M.,, and if the numbers continue to hold, 5 percent of 1,196,385 votes (which is 95% of the vote) is 59,318 votes. If Barack Obama gets the same 65% of the vote he got in Gary, Ind., which is in Lake Co., that would be 38,882 votes to Hillary's 20,761.
The margin would be 18,121, and that would give Barack Obama victory by 2,112 votes. It's now 1:06 A.M. But where are the votes?
Ah, here come the votes, and they are helpful to Clinton. It's 1:08 A.M. With 98% of the votes counted, she's leading by 637,389 to 615,370. It now appears that Barack probably cannot win Indiana. Outside of Gary, his margin has slipped in Lake County, mainly in smaller towns like Hammond, just 15 minutes from Obama's home in Illinois, and the votes just counted are probably from other more rural areas. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer summons the music and makes the announcement: Clinton has won, by less than 20,000 votes of more than 1.1. million counted.
It's a little weird to hear the CNN anchors badgering the mayor of Gary over the slow count, and repeatedly egging the mayor of Hammond into suggesting that corruption in Lake Co. is not exactly unheard of. But when King asked the question the third time, apparently the heat got too hot for whomever was cooking the ballots in Lake County's electoral kitchens.
One can chalk up a victory for freedom of the press and the power of the media, and we should, but there isn't a heart that beats in Chicago and its suburbs tonight that doesn't sigh, "Where is Mayor Daley when we need him?"
But Barack Obama didn't come from that Daley school, and maybe that's what "change" means.