Election coverage this past week gave me an epiphany. And extra sleep as a bonus.
As I flipped channels and browsed Web sites to absorb election night coverage and commentary, a near-perfect analogy occurred to me: The analysis was the equivalent of play-by-play coverage of a taped football game.
Think about it: When the polls close at 7 p.m., every vote already has been cast. At that point, the game is over. Anyone offering commentary as the votes are counted is merely analyzing the play of a game that's already finished.
They don't know the outcome, of course, but the outcome already is determined as soon as the polls close - we just don't know the final score.
That means those commentators are all pontificating as if they're seeing the game played right in front of them, when in reality all the players long since have gone to the locker room.
When that realization hit me Tuesday night, I cheerfully closed the iPad, switched off the TV and went to bed earlier on an election night than I have in a long time.
After all: I could just pick up the paper out of my driveway the next morning. It would have all the final scores I needed, and I could make up my own play-by-play.
If the rest of the country figures this out, the cable networks are in big trouble during the next election.
One person who was pretty happy with the outcome of Tuesday's elections was Lee Benedict.
Not on his own behalf, mind you. While Benedict had announced his withdrawal as a candidate from Columbia County's District 2 school board race, he'd apparently never formally pulled out. So while entirely unlikely, it was possible for him to win a race that he'd quit.
In this case, though, Benedict was happy on behalf of a candidate who'd quit one race to run in another - and then won.
Benedict was an early supporter of former Georgia state Rep. Austin Scott, who was among the first of many candidates announcing a bid for governor. Scott drew attention to his campaign by taking a walking tour around the perimeter of Georgia, and Benedict brought him by to see me when he passed through the area.
I was impressed. Scott is what seems to be a rarity these days, an untainted, commonsense conservative. In fact, he had enough common sense that he figured out he had no chance in the governor's race, and instead filed to run for Congress.
Scott was very much the underdog against incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall. But with a combination of hard work and good timing from the nationwide red-state wave, Scott unseated Marshall to take the Eighth District post.
Benedict, who had signed on as Scott's local contact in the governor's race, continued as a supporter when Scott pulled back to run in his south Georgia district - and he couldn't be happier with the outcome.
Even though he was still technically a candidate in a race here, Benedict traveled to Tifton to celebrate Scott's win Tuesday and shared a victory photo with the new congressman.
"I believe in Austin Scott as a man, as an American, as a public servant, and as a friend,"Benedict said, "and I am looking forward to the good he will do and the impact he will make."
Congratulations, to both.
Speaking of congratulations, hooray for Stacie Adkins for being named the interim director of a hybrid of her community events office and the recreation department pending the replacement of the retiring Charlie Beale.
They're planning a drop-in reception for Beale from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 29 at Patriots Park, and Adkins is hoping to present Beale with a keepsake book with memorabilia, photos and letters tracing his decades with the department. Send items to her by Dec. 10 at Columbia County Leisure Services, P.O. Box 498, Evans, GA 30809. If you have questions, call her at (706) 312-7191.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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