As Election Day 2012 approaches, I find myself haunted by memories of Election Day 2004, November 2. At that time I was volunteering with George Soros’ organization, America Coming Together. I was working with a lot of people from outside Ohio. There was a woman from California, others from the eastern seaboard and even a man who had been living in France for a number of years had come to help turn the tide of the election in Columbus in the bellwether State of Ohio. Early in the evening, about a half-hour before the polls closed, three of us were driving up and down Cleveland Avenue in the Linden area of Columbus, to see what was really happening or on some unremembered errand. It was raining, cold, and the dark streets glistened bleakly in the rain. Our hopes were at first buoyed and then quickly erased as the radio reported first a hopeful indication of a Kerry victory based on exit polls and then, in less than a half an hour, a Kerry defeat was abruptly announced based on the “actual” results.

All of us in the car were stunned, upset, and skeptical of the results. However, before we were able to consider the ramifications of what we had just heard, we were standing face-to-face with the electoral realities occurring along the Cleveland Avenue corridor of Columbus. As we stopped at a polling location, after the polls had officially closed, lines still stretched around buildings and around blocks. We were told of wait times ranging from 4 to 8 hours and more. And it was not just one polling location, it was one after another in that section of town. The rest, as they say, is history (or perhaps not, depending on who writes that history).

Fast forward to 2012. Now Mitt Romney, after trailing dismally in the polls through September is surging forward on a gust of high hopes that that were raised from the single first debate in October. Part of this is his opponent, President Barack Obama. Obama had more of what George W Bush called “political capital” than I had ever seen in my life at the beginning of 2009. Obama neither spent this capital nor squandered it, but simply seemed to sit on it until it vanished beneath him. But still, even with a weak Obama, there is something not quite credible about the strength of the rise of Romney. Romney was not that strong, and Obama has had performances that were as credible and in some cases stronger than Romney. What is lifting Romney? I cannot say. Is it in part an uncritical media, overstating the strength of the first debate, and waiting, hoping? I do not know, but I found Romney suspiciously casual and unconcerned in the last debate on foreign policy. It was as if he felt he had little to worry about. I do not know what will happen. I do not know if there will be election theft or malfeasance. But I will not be surprised by a result that favors Romney.