Cafferty File

Which is better for the country: a close election or a clear mandate?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With 12 days to go and polls tightening nationwide and in several key states, it looks like the 2012 presidential election just might be another nail biter.

That wasn't the case last time around.

In 2008, Barack Obama mopped the floor with John McCain, winning both the Electoral College and the popular vote by wide margins.

But the two presidential contests before that were close ones.

In the 2004 race between incumbent George W. Bush and John Kerry it all came down to the state of Ohio. That could very well be the case a week from Tuesday.

If Kerry had won Ohio, he would have been president.

Going back to 2000, it was even closer. So close it took 36 days and the Supreme Court to decide the winner.

The High Court effectively handed that election to George W. Bush over Al Gore after ordering the re-counting of ballots in Florida stopped.

The five-week drama of counting ballots, hanging chads and legal appeals took a toll on the country.

Fast forward to 2012 and what is by all accounts a tight race. Very tight. Not that long ago, President Obama was favored to win.

But after a monumentally bad first debate for the president and a strong month for Mitt Romney, the challenger now has the wind at his back.

When even The New York Times is out with a piece this week about how Romney has the momentum heading into the home stretch, it's an indication that we might be headed for another election all-nighter and then some.

Here’s my question to you: Which is better for the country: a close election or a clear mandate?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.