For the first time since I stepped into a ballot box, I'm going to feel like my vote will make a difference.
I haven't always felt this way. I've voted in two presidential elections, and both times, it seemed that my vote was purely symbolic. In 2004, I cast an absentee ballot as a resident of New York, which John Kerry handily won (opens in new tab) 58 % to 40 %. In 2008, I voted in Chicago, Obama's hometown and one of the bluest cities in the nation. I was preparing to feel similarly irrelevant this year when I voted in Harlem — a neighborhood whose love palpably swells for Obama in the form of faded 2008 Shepard Fairey posters in store windows and "GOBAMA" bumper stickers.
I was wrong. Regardless of who wins, the final popular vote count will dictate the legitimacy of the man who will become president. For Obama, whose legitimacy has been constantly questioned by birthers and racists despite a near-landslide win in 2008, this is no small factor. George W. Bush won the presidency after a Supreme Court ruling, but the sting over Al Gore's popular vote victory colored Bush's legacy and the next eight years of progressive politics.
Indeed, this dead-heat election has prompted some pundits to point out that the election may culminate in a similar schism between the electoral college results and the popular vote. Even if Obama ekes out a win, as many polls suggest and as star statistician Nate Silver has infamously predicted (opens in new tab), it's quite possible that Romney may narrowly claim the popular vote.
Meanwhile, East Coast states are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, so much that experts are predicting as much as a 15 percent reduction in voter turnout. That means that in the heavily Democratic states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Obama could lose 340,000 votes (opens in new tab). Not enough to sway the election, but enough to put a dent in the popular vote.
This particular election has put an individualist flair on a system that deliberately tempers this impulse with its electoral college system. It's also somewhat shifted the focus from those elusive undecided voters to the ones who will actually show up, even if their neighborhood has been ravaged by a hurricane, even if they live in a state whose outcome feels predetermined. Tomorrow, every vote really will count — mine included.
Nona Willis Aronowitz is an editor and writer who thinks a lot about love, sex and politics. She tweets at @nona.
A Celebrity Colorist Explains Why You Should Always Wash Your Hair After Coloring It
Every color needs a good cleanse.
By Gabrielle Ulubay
Lizzo's Game-Changing Eyebrow Hack Is About to Revamp Your Makeup Routine
She also gave us a peek inside her makeup bag.
By Samantha Holender
This Is the Only Dry Shampoo That Makes My Hair Feel Clean—Not Crunchy
Bonus: It’s only $8 per bottle.
By Samantha Holender
5 Practical Things You Can Do to Protect Democracy
Advice from top celebrities and Michelle Obama herself.
By Erin Geiger Smith
Why the 2022 Midterm Elections Are So Critical
As we blaze through a highly charged midterm election season, Swing Left Executive Director Yasmin Radjy highlights rising stars who are fighting for women’s rights.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
For Teachers, Going to Work Can Mean Life or Death
Stefanie Minguell, a COVID survivor and second grade teacher in Florida's Broward County, almost died of COVID-19 and is immunocomprised. When she teaches in the classroom, she’s forced to choose between her health and her students.
By Megan DiTrolio
Who Is Gwen Berry, the Athlete, Activist, and Olympian?
"I’m extremely American because I’ll fight for people here, because we’ve endured it here..."
By Megan DiTrolio
It’s Time to Give Domestic Workers the Protections They Deserve
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, reintroduced today, would establish a new set of standards for the people who work in our homes and take a vital step towards racial and gender equity.
By Ai-jen Poo
Grand New Party?
Moderates are appalled—and fleeing—but the Republican base is more besotted with Trump than ever. Six conservative female leaders chart a path forward.
By Megan DiTrolio and Maria Ricapito
Attorney General Letitia James Takes on the World
Whether you're the N.R.A. or Dunkin' Donuts or a Trump, break the law in the great state of New York and she—and the office she represents—will come at you.
By Maria Ricapito
These Indigenous Reindeer Herders Are Fighting for the Right to Their Ancestral Lands
In the face of decades of cultural erasure, the Sámi women are striving to keep their culture, language, and livelihoods alive.
By Mara Santilli