By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Is it over yet? Because any election in which Paris Hilton becomes an issue—and offers a better energy plan than the two candidates—can't be over too soon, Buzz called Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet to see if he'd spotted any nifty electoral trends in the wind.
Truthfully, we were a little more direct than that. "Who's gonna win, [Barack Obama or John McCain]?" we asked, hoping for an answer that would allow us to go back to focusing on the more important things, like preseason football.
"I'm not sure I want to bet any money on it," he replied.
Sigh. That meant we had to ask follow-up questions. So, we asked, has his office noticed any jump in the number of youths registering to vote? Stop Buzz if you've heard this before, but this election—finally, this one—is going to be the one in which America's young people flex their electoral muscle. That probably sounds like good news to you, provided you don't actually know any 18-year-olds. We have a nephew whose 18th birthday falls just past the October cutoff date for registering to vote this year, and it's a sign that God truly blesses America that the young man won't be inflicting his electoral wisdom on the nation. Kid can't even keep a car between the white lines on the road. (Harrumph, grumble, grumble. Buzz fussily adjusts our lap shawl and bangs our cane on the porch floor.)
Sorry. What we're we talking about? Oh, the election. Sherbet says the number of new voter registrations hitting his office have been running about usual, with most coming in from folks renewing their drivers licenses. He's seen no unusual patterns: for instance, no huge spike in the number of people with Latino surnames registering. It's still early, though, and September and early October will be the determining time. If the huge, record-busting turnout in the primaries is any indication, Sherbet says, "We are definitely gearing up for an all-time record...this one has been unlike anything I've ever seen."
That could be good news for Belo Corp., owner of WFAA-TV and several other stations nationwide. According to the company's Web site, first-quarter revenue from political ads was $5.1 million, up $4.3 million versus the first quarter of 2007, one of the few bright spots in a sinking advertising market.
What about the rest of us? Can we endure weeks of dramatically lighted faces and deeply voiced narrators delivering entirely vacuous, vaguely dishonest political messages and still have the energy to set Sherbet's all-time record, or will we eventually just say screw it all?
"That," Sherbet says, "would be disappointing."