I ended up staying up most of the night watching the results come in until such a point when it became clear no winner was going to emerge until today or, possibly, even later.
I know we still have to wait for Ohio to declare but it's realistically not looking very good for Kerry and the Democrats. I'm incredibly happy that the US has seen the largest voter turnout for decades, glad to see that the process 'seems' to have run relatively smoothly this time round. but I'm obviously disappointed by the result even if I'm not 100% surprised at it.
If the Democrats don't win Ohio the Republicans will be in charge of The White House for another four years with Bush Jnr being 'the top man' unless some unforseen circumstance occurs. Which I hope doesn't as it'll just further destabilise the country.
So what went wrong for the Democrats? Partially it was the Republicans managing to mix religion with politics. America is a VERY Christian country with about 50% of its citizens attending church at least once a week. America is probably the most Christian country on the face of the planet and alot of Americans take their faith and morals very seriously. The Republicans played to this with their own beliefs. Gay Marriage is unholy and abortion is a sin. These became reasonably hot topics and it caused a lot of usually Democratic-minded voters to switch their votes to the Republicans. I think we'll see that the coloured vote saw a shift towards Bush because of these issues. Apart from having quite a 'taboo' over gay relationships in many quarters the Church plays a big role in the lives of many.
Holding a national vote about Gay Marriage at the same time as these elections also brought these issues further to the forefront of peoples minds and also mobilised the Christian evangelicals and Right-wing extremists out to vote. When the numbers are tight every vote really does matter so mobilisng people who wouldn't normally vote wasn't only a concern and an aim for the Democrat camp.
There will be loads of debates raging about the shortfalls of whichever side looses this election. Things will come to light and new policies and game plans will start to be drawn up to be used in 2008.
The small hope the rest of the world can take (if Bush does get in) is that America's military is so over stretched and its economy so screwed with the burden of an incredibly large deficit they will find it very, very hard to wage war in any other territories over the next few years. This won't help the minority groups in the States, this won't help famine and AIDS in third-world countries, this won't help the Middle East or America's reputation around the world, sadly it won't even help our ailing climate which REALLY needs to be bumped up everyone's agenda. So Bush might win but he's handicapped himself and America because of his actions over the last four years.
Kerry would have had a sympathetic ear from other leaders and peoples around the world. Bush won't have that support and is unlikely to want to go begging for help.
I just hope all my American friends can weather another four years and the country doesn't get too screwed up because of it.
You all still have my thoughts and best wishes.