The Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters here in Miami is set in a huge former car dealership off Le Jeune Road, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, and if you spend any time here you're bound to get caught up in the traffic that inevitably snarls to a halt just in front of the building. To War Room (whose hotel is nearby), the location has always seemed genius; every day, thousands of people pass by this spot and witness the heady buzz inside the building, which (you can see this clearly from the street) is always crowded with volunteers, all busy and happy, working hard for BC '04.
Passing by around the time the polls closed tonight, we pulled into the parking lot to get a read of the mood at Bush HQ. While we'd like to be able to report that the GOP troops, having absorbed somewhat disappointing exit polls, were all frowns, alas, they were not. We walked inside (nobody asked for our credentials) and spotted volunteers and campaign staffers everywhere, laughing, smiling, running around with boxes and signs, apparently unfazed by any early exit numbers. Nobody would talk to us, though: partly because we didn't have any Spanish speakers along, and partly because when we introduced ourselves, a number of people told us that they couldn't speak to the media without permission.
We felt like strangers in a strange land, and didn't stay long. But we wondered on the way out: Will it be the people here in this building who will suffer a defeat tonight, or will it be us? Are we the ones who are deluded right now (after all, as the Drudge Report is taking pains to note, early exit polls in 2000 also called the race for Gore) -- or are they? And after tonight, once a winner emerges, will our two camps ever get along? In a state that could decide it all again, extending an olive branch across America's great partisan divide may be the last thing on anybody's mind right now.