Growing up in a swing state can make a person either really love or really hate politics. As for me, I’m in the first camp–I remember first really starting to care about who won elections in middle school and discussing Bush vs. Gore with my best friend on our walk to the bus stop before school in the mornings. In high school I started to both learn more about politics academically, and become involved in campaigns and increasing political awareness among my peers. Since turning 18, I’ve remained interested in politics (I was a PoliSci major in undergrad). However, since I became an eligible voter I’ve been out of the country for many of the key political events (I’ve only voted at my local polling place once, and that wasn’t in a national election). I cast my vote in the 2008 primaries through the London Caucus, I watched President Obama’s inauguration from a diner in Moscow, and I am familiar with all manner of absentee ballots and early voting laws. This election season, I’ve been abroad in Georgia. Being abroad during an election gives a strange perspective on events back home. I was discussing the election with a (non-American) friend on Skype the other night, and he asked what I predicted as an American. I realized that I had no better idea than he, since I was removed from the daily conversations and encounters regarding the election, and was dependent on what was covered by major media outlets or outraged my Facebook friends–even though I read multiple news sources and have friends from both sides of the political aisle, my view is still skewed by sampling bias. Given my poor recent track record of predicting elections (case in point: Georgian Parliamentary Elections), I don’t feel my American citizenship and general interest in politics gives me any insight into what will happen today, but I’m looking forward to finding out. If I can drag myself out of bed tomorrow morning (an advantage of the time difference), I’m planning on watching the returns with some other foreigners in Tbilisi–it’s always more fun as a social event to share the emotions. This afternoon I’ll be talking about the elections with some of my students–I’m planning on explaining the quirks of the electoral college, showing them clips from The West Wing, and letting them hear from the candidates themselves via YouTube.
I sent my absentee ballot in, and with luck Georgian Post has gotten it back to America in time. If you’re abroad and didn’t manage to vote this time, check out this post for some resources for American voters abroad.