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Cold Turkey

11/06/08 7:55AM By Leora Dowling
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(HOST) Commentator Leora Dowling has been caught up in the political process for months - and now that the election is over, she's finding it a little hard to adjust.

(DOWLING) My name's Leora and I'm a political junkie.  At some point I became addicted to the election, and my computer and radio were on for days at a time.  I lived for polls, graphs, and the electoral map.  But now my supply has been shut off.  The election is over and I'm suffering from withdrawal.

Sure, I know that for most people the fact that it's finally over is a good thing. They reached a saturation point long ago - but I just couldn't seem to get enough.

For a while I thought I was the only one taking my computer to bed and reading until my eyes got blurry and my lap felt numb.  But one night, around 2 a.m., I stumbled on a blog written by someone just like me - another political junkie.  It seems I wasn't alone.  Thousands of us hadn't been able to walk away from the screen or say "no" to one more slide show of the Obama family hugging each other.

In fact, the Pew Research Center says that 61% of Americans followed the campaign closely this year - some might even say obsessively. The highest number since they started recording interest back in the late 1980s.

There are myriad reasons people paid special attention to this election, some more profound than others.  The stakes were high and our choices historic and compelling.  But this is America, home of Cecil B. DeMille, P.T. Barnum and the Super Bowl.  Election 2008 - all 20 months of it - was also phenomenal political theater.  The hundreds of websites, thousands of videos, and zillions of words dedicated to the important issues, and the silliest rumors, are testament to that.

People like me drove the traffic at political websites like the Huffington Post and Real Clear Politics.com. We followed links to bloggers in Alaska and editorial writers in London.  We helped propel Rachel Maddow to stardom.  And just ask me about Elizabeth's Dole's losing commercials.  I have no TV, but I saw them on You Tube.

And now, here I sit in the aftermath unable to go cold turkey and shut down the computer.  I'm still searching the net for another poll, any poll - and they're fast disappearing.  

And that colorful electoral map - it hasn't changed in quite a while now.

Two weeks ago in The Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson wrote: "What am I going to do when this election is over?"  I feel his pain.  I'm adrift now too.  But things are slowly returning to normal.  Already I've picked up a non-glowing entity called a book.  And I've stop shushing my husband whenever I hear the voice of Daniel Schorr.

I also know that I'll see my fellow on-line election addicts soon enough.  Campaign 2012 should begin just about any day now.

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