This was an extraordinary election year and the end result has hardly surprised anyone. That it will be such a landslide victory for Obama was enthralling. Much was written about the campaign, each word spoken or unspoken was scrutinized; each expression was analyzed, the body language experts worked overtime and the newspapers and television networks scrambled to get the latest and most newsworthy item on their front page/prime time.

We, as a family, followed the elections right from the days when candidates announced their candidature till the very end, when McCain was defending the red states while Obama was fighting there, turning them gradually into toss-up states. In between, the journey was topsy-turvy, to say the least, first the battle at the primaries to the party nomination to the vice-presidential pick, it was simply captivating. So there was no way, we would miss the excitement of the big day. My 4 year old twins, Taran and Roshan, made “Vote for Barack Obama” placards which they wore to school. And with this little conversation in our minivan on the way to school they proved that they too were in the thick of things.

Roshan: Mom, are you sure you will vote for Obama?
Me: Yes, why do you ask?
Roshan: Sachin "mama" (uncle) is going to vote for McCain.
Taran: But I told you so many days ago, that will not be fair. We have to take turns. This time it is the turn of the Democrats.
Roshan: I know.
Me: Well, we can vote for the candidate of our choice and who we believe will be a better president.
Roshan: Do you know that I am also voting for Obama? I also told my friends (names omitted) to vote for Obama.
Me: What did you tell them?
Roshan: I told them that Barack Obama has great plans and good ideas for our country. He will make USA stronger.
Me: AHEM!!!

Early in the morning, I had voted for “change”. It was my first experience to vote in the US elections and I am glad I got the opportunity. But T & R were so eager to check out the polling stations, I took them along to check it out. And as many of us, they got swayed by the charm, policies and energy of Barack Obama and made their own political statement by chanting “Yes, we can”. I am glad they experienced the making of history.

The elections are over and Barack Obama will take oath on Jan 20th. The culmination of the $1 billion campaign has resulted in a medley of emotions for various people – most are glad it is finally over but I will miss it. Every evening after putting the kids to bed, I couldn’t wait to turn on the television and surf Huffington Post and Politico while watching Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper. The race had its ups and downs, gaffes aplenty, expensive wardrobes, record-breaking smear campaigns and fundraising (though not necessarily in that order) and abundant material for stand-up comedians. Each of it made my evenings simultaneously enjoyable and informative. In retrospect, both the campaigns were simply doing their job - of portraying their man as the best man. But ultimately, as President elect Barack Obama said, “We are not a collection of red states and blue states; we are the United States of America”.

The race between the two presidential candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama was very tight till about the middle of September. McCain, the maverick, scored highly on national security while Obama, the voice for change, was considered strong on the economy. Then the economic climate deteriorated around Sep 15th when news of the likes of Lehman Brothers and AIG hit the wires. The markets reacted and the Dow dropped more than 500 points in the first day of the economic setback.

The facts did not bode well for McCain. There are three jobseekers for every 1 job opening. As per MSNBC’s poll, 79% felt the country is headed in the wrong direction. This coupled with the fact that the current president, George Bush’s approval ratings are down to 28% hurt McCain’s chances tremendously. The parallels to the Bill Clinton’s successful campaign are so strong that one can not help but be reminded of the time when Bush Sr.’s approval ratings were down to about 30% and the economy had undergone a recession. And that’s when James Carville, Clinton’s campaign strategist coined this phrase.

But despite the bleak economic conditions, McCain seemed to be the only one who believed “the fundamentals of the economy are strong”. That was the death knell of the McCain campaign and the surge of the Obama campaign. After all, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

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