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Lots of smart media people said it was going to be “too close to
call.”

Lots of pollsters warned it looked like “a dead heat.”

And lots of party hacks and magazine writers predicted Florida was
the state to watch Tuesday night (though not Wednesday morning and
Wednesday afternoon and … ).

But whichever political prognosticator, amateur or pro, said, “As
Orange Juice Lane goes in Citrus County, so goes the nation,” wins this
year’s Pulitzer Prize in punditry.

In the pollster division, the winner is whoever said, “As long as the
daily death rate among female Jewish widows over 85 with college degrees
in Southeast Miami’s 13th precinct is below normal on Tuesday, Gore will
win the presidency by at least 11 votes.”

It’s going to take some heavy digging by historians like Doris Kearns
Goodwin to find out if anyone was even close to being so esoterically
accurate about predicting the Bush-Gore race. No humble magazine watcher
has the time or the research staff to look stuff like that up before the
race is even decided, even with the help of Al Gore’s Internet.

It’s horribly unfair to now go back and grab quotes from last week
and hang their authors with them. But there’s not much else to do but
watch TV until new magazines come out next week.

One smarty who knew Florida would be a dead heat was Ryan Lizza of


The New Republic.
As Lizza cynically stated on the magazine’s website, “Conventional wisdom holds that Democratic pandering and Republican pandering are canceling each other out in Florida.”

Right so far. But Lizza got in trouble when he said the Democrat’s secret weapon was their narrowcast pandering to Florida’s 350,000 Puerto Ricans in Central Florida. Seen as a key, up-for-grabs area populated by transplanted, nonpartisan Baby Boomers from up North, it was the focus of a long feature by Time’s

Steve
Lopez
last week. Lopez, despite his microscopic inspection of the epidemic of political fatigue in the Orlando-Tampa Bay I-4 corridor, had the sense to not try to guess who’d get more votes there.

The New Republic’s Lizza probably now wishes he hadn’t been so cocky. He boldly quoted the head of Gore’s central Florida campaign as saying Joe Lieberman “can tune in at 7:30 on Election Day to see if they won Orange County. If they won Orange County, they won Florida. And if they won Florida, they won the election.”

Nice try, Ryan. Doing a few seconds of Net research shows that while Gore beat Bush in Orange County by a little less than 6,000 votes, Bush still took a healthy split of Central Florida and Florida is still in the air — so much for simply playing the Orange card.

Meanwhile, surf your Web and don’t hold your breath waiting at the local newsstand for the special post-election issues to be published today as originally promised by

Time
and

Newsweek.
Under the best scenario — an early decisive win by Bush or Gore — it would have been a mad scramble to publish their issues in 24 hours.

They could still appear. But Time and Newsweek may as well wait till next week. By then Florida’s elections officials will have received those three absentee ballots from the boys in the radar room of the USS Nimitz, and the winner of Election 2000 should finally be known.

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