Anybody ready to vote?
It appears I'm not the only person wondering if this was the longest election season in world history. Actually, it just felt that way for a few interesting reasons.
First and foremost, social networking has gained significant steam since 2008, making it nearly impossible to escape the onslaught of opinions, analysis, posts, ads, links and celebrity pleas on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, e-mail and blogs.
"I can't wait until the election is over, so I can like my friends with opinions again," Channa Tastsides-Lerch, 37, posted on her Facebook page last week.
"It's everywhere now, but Facebook is the main stream where I get the most," said Tastsides-Lerch, the Rush City owner of Firefly Bistro, in a follow-up interview. "Incessantly everywhere. Get it over with."
Traditional media aren't giving us a break, either. Late-night television, 24/7 cable news, lawn signs busting out all over.
Or just ask Abigael.
In case you missed it, 4-year-old Abigael of Fort Collins, Colo., burst into sobs, then was recorded by her mom (natch) and propelled into viral preeminence (also natch), expressing a familiar frustration (tinyurl.com/bzgukqk).
"I'm tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney," the tear-streaked pumpkin told her mom, Elizabeth Evans, as they listened to NPR on a trip to the grocery store last week.
But here's another fascinating fact about the 2012 presidential election: The "undecided" segment is the smallest it's been in years, with estimates of undecided voters ranging from 2 to 4 percent.
While the candidates are doing handsprings to woo them in what is predicted to be Tuesday's razor-thin race, up to 98 percent of us have been champing at the bit -- for months now -- to get to the polls already.
"I don't know how anybody can be undecided," said David E. Woodard, department chair of History and Political Science at Concordia University in St. Paul.
"I really follow the polls, and people have had their minds made up since early summer," Woodard said. "The numbers now are about the same as before the first debate. That makes me wonder if there are even 4 percent undecided."
Joe Peschek, political science department chair at the Hamline University College of Liberal Arts, had a similar take.
"The campaign has gotten very long, with nonstop campaigning these days," Peschek said. "With Obama, an incumbent, and Mitt Romney who has run before, there's not a whole lot more to learn from the candidates at this point. It's a choice, not an echo."
Here's a warning though. Just when we thought we were out of the woods and finally heading to the polls -- and you are heading to the polls, yes? -- Woodard predicts the day-after-the-election response is already building.
"Both sides on Twitter are starting to build a narrative in case their candidate loses," he said. "The narrative might be, 'They cheated.'"
Quick! Could someone please cover up Abigael's ears?
Even Woodard, a self-professed political junkie, is reaching his breaking point. "Social media is fascinating," he said. "It's fun to follow.
"I can't wait till it's over."
Facebook poster Tastsides-Lerch can't wait until it's over, as well, so she no longer has to avoid certain topics. "My peers don't talk about politics," said the mother of four boys.
She's surprised to admit that she's actually looking forward to another kind of onslaught.
"I just can't wait until it's over and we're back to, 'Hey! My kids are cute, and here's why!'"