After a late election night, Republican students celebrated a victory for President Bush Wednesday afternoon as Sen. John Kerry conceded defeat to the incumbent.
The president’s victory came after votes from the battleground state of Ohio, which Bush needed to win a second term in the White House, indicated a clear victory for the president late Wednesday morning. Bush broke the 270-vote threshold needed to win with 274 electoral votes, including Ohio’s 20. With Iowa and New Mexico still tallying results Wednesday afternoon, Kerry took 252 votes.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Kerry conceded defeat during a speech in downtown Boston and congratulated Bush on his victory.
“I would not give up this fight if there was a chance we would prevail,” Kerry told a cheering group of supporters.
With shades of the 2000 election debacle still in Americans’ minds, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards said his party would ensure that “every vote counts.”
At 3 p.m., the president thanked his supporters at an acceptance speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington.
“A campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith,” Bush said.
Bush promised to continue America’s “economic progress” and foster a democratic government in Iraq.
“We’ll reform our outdated tax code,” he said. “We’ll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We’ll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith.”
Speaking from the Reagan Building before the president’s speech, Chrissy Trotta, president of the GW College Republicans, said she was ecstatic over Bush’s victory.
“I’m doing excellent this morning,” said Trotta, who returned Wednesday from campaigning in Michigan, a state won by Kerry. “It was a crazy night last night. We got no sleep … but we’re all really happy now.”
“I’m very happy, especially at this campus,” said junior Nick Nelson, making reference to a strongly Democratic university. “It’s redemption.”
Students on the left of the political spectrum seemed downcast at news of Kerry’s concession. Some said they knew the president would eventually win.
“After last night, I expected (Kerry) to concede, but not this early,” said senior Andrew Dualan, who added that he will continue to pay close attention to the political process even though his preferred candidate lost.
Some Democrats said they were holding out hope until Wednesday afternoon.
“I thought Kerry had a chance early on when solidly Republican states like Virginia were not quick to release their results,” said junior Jessie Ilkson, who added that she had high hopes after several exit polls Tuesday predicted a victory for the Massachusetts Democrat.
For several hours on Tuesday, polls indicated that Kerry had an advantage in some battleground states that later went to the president, said Christopher Arterton, dean of the University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
He said Bush benefited from his efforts to motivate many evangelical Christian voters and Kerry’s inability to shake the image of a wavering flip-flopper.
“I do think one other thing that’s notable is the extreme level of partisan divide,” he added.
The lessons learned from a close result in Florida during the 2000 election prompted a more careful approach from networks, Arterton said.
“Even at some time one network made a call while another network said they were not prepared to call the state, and this went on for about an hour,” he said.
Students intently watched the networks’ predictions late Tuesday at an election night bash held by the College Democrats and the College Republicans in the Marvin Center.
“I’m very nervous about tonight,” said freshman Javier Nolasco, a Democrat who voted for Kerry. “And I’m definitely going to skip classes … I’m not even going to finish my English paper.”
Freshman Michael Morrisey said, “I voted absentee for New York and I’m going to stay up until Bush wins, which is inevitable.”
As several major news networks called Ohio for Bush, putting him within one electoral vote of re-election, Republican students erupted in cheers as Democrats became more subdued.
At 2 a.m., when Marvin Center employees closed the third floor for the night, the remaining students flocked to the Hippodrome, where several arguments ensued between Republican and Democrat students.
Marvin Center employees told the approximately 30 students lounging on the Hippodrome’s leather couches that the floor would close at 4 a.m.
-Alexandra Aaron and Michael Barnett contributed to this report.