US elections are disorienting for voters, bombarded with ads making extravagant claims about what candidates will do, that few believe, and even more ads telling us what a low-life the rival candidate is. Most of us don't believe those either. Both candidates in this week's presidential contest are fundamentally decent men.
They are weirder still for the candidates, who adopt all manner of positions and faces to appeal to as many voters as possible in such a huge, diverse country. For months they walk on eggshells, fearing the gaffe (Mitt's "47%") that may torpedo their chances. In the land of the free, these two men are arguably among the least able to speak their minds freely.
They are oddest of all for pundits. Dragged out to pontificate weeks – months even – ahead of there being any real news. They rely on a suspension of disbelief between pundit, anchor and viewer that what they say matters. There's no comeback when they call an election wrongly – as so many of them do, and did this time – from pollster Dick Morris to ex-MP Louise Mensch.
When there actually IS news, like real votes being cast on the actual night, some struggle to prick their own private bubble of self-importance. Witness former Bush strategist Karl Rove making a fool of himself on Fox News over it having the temerity to (correctly) call Ohio for Obama, or Donald "revolution" Trump's epic Twitter meltdown.
Bluntly, Obama won because his base and umbrella appeal more closely resemble today's USA, not that of Romney's parents. Now, he must prove worthy of their faith in him. Again.