How to do an election results cartoon before the election

Jim Borgman has an interesting post over on his blog regarding the difficulty of creating an editorial cartoon about the election results before the election has taken place.

In past years I’ve played it several ways. Sometimes I’ve chosen an entirely different issue for the cartoon’s topic. This tends to make one look clueless, commenting on, say, global warming or the Bengals’ season when everyone else wakes up wanting to talk about election results.

Other times I’ve drawn cartoons projecting opposite results. But that doesn’t work, because usually the ed page editor has to make a choice before the election outcomes are certain, and consequently must opt for the third idea, the mealy-mouthed limp-wristed one that avoids making a call and comments on the need to clean up the yard signs or whatever. By Thursday, the cartoons in the bank feel stale and out of touch with the larger picture that has evolved.

And that’s the unavoidable truth — even if I were to call a certain predictable race in advance and have a cartoon ready to run, that cartoon usually has a hollow feel to it when it shows up in the post-election day newspaper. It hasn’t had the benefit of context. Was this race part of a larger change in the political landscape? Or was it eclipsed by an unanticipated pattern in the results?

You can’t write (or draw) journalism before it happens. The rolling nature of online journalism will change these ways cartoonists have had to think.

On a somewhat related note, posts to the Daily Cartoonist may come in sparsely tomorrow. I typically update the blog in the morning before I go into work, but as I’ll be standing in line to do my civic duty, it will definitely cut into my blogging time.

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