It’s been a long slog of a campaign and many Americans – whether their favored candidate won or lost – are just relieved it’s over. Here are 10 signs Election Day has been and gone.
1. No-one cares about Ohio
Once every four years, the state finds itself at the centre of the political universe, before dropping off the map. Ohio is often the butt of American jokes – seen as the embodiment of a Midwestern backwater. But as the election draws near, the world’s media descends, and commentators talk breathlessly about how “it’s all about Ohio”.
“People enjoy it,” says Fred Andrle, a former talk show host in Ohio. Most of the time, “we are considered fly-over people”.
Ohio law student Andrew Gordon-Seifert, 24, appreciated the attention – not least from the candidates themselves. But he says: “There’s a sentiment of cynicism – they realized how important we are to getting elected, but will they be there for us in the future?”
2. Mattress ads back on television
There were more than one million campaign ad airings in this presidential campaign – almost double that in 2008 and 2004. It has been a bonanza in terms of ad revenues for TV stations, but now the adverts have returned to staple subjects like mattresses, a dog’s arthritis or erectile dysfunction. Answering the phone has become a whole lot easier for those in swing states too – if there is a call, it is probably a real person.
3. The polling addicts are in detox
There are lots of “poll junkies” out there, says self-confessed addict Daniel Hamermesh, who teaches economics at the University of Texas at Austin and Royal Holloway in London. With a habit of checking the latest polls at least four times a day, he set himself the target of going cold turkey up to Election Day. He lasted just three days.
“I fell off the damn wagon,” he says.
But with the election over, he says he’s coping fine: “The thing that caused the addiction is gone – it’s as if there has been a tobacco blight, and the tobacco is gone,” he says.
“My wife is happy to have me back more full-time.”
4. All the news is about this cliff thing
Lots of things get put on ice during election season, but this one will have to come out of the freezer soon. The “fiscal cliff” refers to a deadline of December 31st for Congress to agree on spending levels and tax rates. The Fitch ratings agency recently called it the “single biggest near-term threat to a global economic recovery”. The word “bipartisanship” is one that has come out of the deep-freeze in the last couple of days. It will be needed.
5. You only read Buzzfeed for pictures of cats
Once upon a time, Buzzfeed was a site devoted to cats playing the piano, photos of kids with weird haircuts, and 90s nostalgia. But then Politico whiz-kid Ben Smith came on board just in time for the drama of the 2012 election. Suddenly the site known for articles like This Grandma And Her Cat Are The Cutest Best Friends Ever and 9 Most Controversial Salads was a must-read for political junkies, with trenchant articles from a stable of talented reporters, putting forward a mix of breaking scoops and in-depth features. They’re probably still doing all that stuff, but now that the election is over, you’re more interested in those salads.
6. Joe Biden stops emailing you
You can open your inbox without it being full of emails from the candidates or their campaign teams, usually exhorting you to dig deep into your pockets or give up some time to get people out to vote.
Mitt Romney’s final email on Election Day began with the words: “Friend, Polls are open for a few more hours. Your vote, and your outreach efforts, will determine the outcome. America’s future is up to you.”
7. Celebrities go back to selling you their perfume, not their political views
Celebrity endorsements have been a staple in American politics for some time, and this year was no exception. Barack Obama managed to muster a longer line-up, with more A-listers, but the celebrity moment of the campaign definitely goes to Clint Eastwood for his soliloquy to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. That may well be remembered, but the B-and-C-listers will vanish back into oblivion.
8. Election tat is piling up
It will be decades before the bog-standard mugs, badges, bumper stickers and posters of this campaign gain any significant value as collectors’ items, says Steve Ferber an expert on political memorabilia. Campaigns have begun to charge for things which used to be given away for free, he says. There has also been an “amazing increase” in buyers from abroad, he says – especially from the UK, Germany and Australia, who are keen on Barack Obama items.
9. You can say what you like on Facebook
Election time can create some awkward moments with friends and family on the other side of the political divide. Student Andrew Gordon-Seifert says most of the political chat among his friends was on Facebook, and things could get testy at times, with inflammatory political posts, and angry ripostes. He took care about what he would say politically – both online and in person – to keep the temperature down. Now it’s over, “we can get back to not being so divided”, he says.
10. The talk is all about 2016
In-between the fierce recriminations and soul-searching among the Republican Party, is speculation on who will run for the presidency in 2016 (Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush, is Politico‘s prediction). This future-gazing actually begins a few days before Election Day, says Karlyn Bowman with the conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute.
“We’re polled out. Everyone is so exhausted, that people just want to turn to something new,” she says.
Many who live and breathe politics are now – with their source of sustenance suddenly gone – feeling a little deflated now, she says.
But the main sentiment is a kind of collective phew: “Everyone will say a prayer – not just for Thanksgiving, but that the campaign is over.”