• The Tribune in funnier times.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word election? The 1999 Alexander Payne film? The 2000 Florida recount? Watergate? Tommy Carcetti running for mayor of Baltimore?

Election can have many different associations. Even though Nate Silver is pretty confident that Obama has this one in the bag, Rasmussen, Gallup, and whichever poll is invented this week confound anyone’s assurance of who will win this presidential race. And with all the polling providing an overload of opinions and predictions, it might be best to step back and remember when elections were quieter, though not exactly quiet, events. After last week’s writing about debates, this week we’re going back in time and dedicating Variations on a Theme to elections of years past.

All this week, check back here to read Reader staff on the history of elections in the United States, abroad, and elsewhere (in the arts, media, and who knows). Don’t forget that tonight at Martyrs’ (3855 N. Lincoln) is the Reader‘s Honest Truth Party, where you can join Mick Dumke, WBEZ’s Justin Kaufmann, and two of the subjects from this week’s cover story for a good-natured discussion. And please don’t forget to vote!