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Media: No-Exit Polling

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On Election Night, when CNN anchor Jeff Greenfield learned at 2:45 a.m. that Al Gore had withdrawn his concession, his immediate reaction was personal: "Better cancel those vacation reservations . . ."

Like every political journalist, Greenfield had been looking forward to some R&R -- his destination was Santa Barbara -- but he's found himself still chained to his desk. "If I have to stick around for the Electoral College," says Greenfield, the author of a novel on Electoral College high jinks, "there goes the Caribbean in December."

"We should start a support group," jokes Jay Carney of Time, who with wife Claire Shipman, NBC's White House correspondent, was supposed to be at the Tucson spa Miraval this week. He's been covering Bush; she's been with Gore. "The debates were our high point," he says, "because we got to see each other." Washington Post staff writer Ruth Marcus canceled her trip to Mexico -- it would have been her first vacation alone with her husband without their children in four years. Daily News Washington-bureau chief Tom DeFrank was trying to figure out how to break it to his son, Andrew, that he might not be celebrating his 5th birthday on a Caribbean cruise as planned. "How can I leave?" he moans. "It would be like a brigade commander going awol just before launching Desert Storm!"

"I'm supposed to go to Hong Kong on December 4, and I'm worried," says New York Times columnist Gail Collins, "which shows how much faith I have in election officials." New York Post Washington-bureau chief Deborah Orin, who has a ticket to England to visit her boyfriend on December 13, says uncertainly, "I'm still hoping I can make it."

Down in Austin, a weary Frank Bruni of the New York Times was thinking longingly of the houses he'd rented for a week each in Virgin Gorda and St. John's starting November 19. "If I don't take this vacation, I can't replicate it," he sighs, since it's impossible to push back the rentals and he may well be covering the transition should Bush win. "Everyone in Austin looks like they're operating at 20 fewer IQ points. I'm finding it hard to spell correctly."

One of the few reporters to keep his vacation plans is The New Yorker's Joe Klein, whose long-scheduled leave of absence from the magazine began the Friday after the election. "I'm thrilled to be getting out," says Klein, heading off to India. "It feels like I'm playing hooky."


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