Watching the election in the Marvin Center Tuesday night and early into the next morning was an emotional ride for Democratic students, ending only with John Kerry’s concession of the presidential race shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
At 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, as President Bush was leading John Kerry 193 electoral votes to 112, spirits were still high in the Democratic-themed “Blue Room” on the Marvin Center’s third floor.
“Kerry is a wee bit behind but the night isn’t over,” sophomore Daniel Morgan said. “Polls are still open and many precincts haven’t reported their results yet.”
Election Night 2004 was indeed still young.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” said Michelle Tanney, the College Democrats’ events and outreach chair. “At this point I know that Bush is ahead in the Electoral College and we have hope.”
One glimmer of hope came for students at 10:47 p.m., when CNN awarded the battleground state of Pennsylvania to Kerry. Members of the College Republicans were quick to refute any notions that Kerry was gaining momentum.
“Bush is in the lead in every battleground state,” said sophomore Sam Grossman while watching in the Republican-themed “Red Room.” “Pennsylvania isn’t too surprising.”
The morale of Democratic students began to rise once again at 1:14 a.m., when CNN said that Ohio was far too close a race to project its 20 electoral votes going to Bush. Shortly after, New Hampshire and Washington state were both awarded to Kerry.
“I’m keeping my chin up but I’m so tired that it’s easier not to think about it,” freshman Tara Biller said as the clock struck 1:44 a.m.
Like Biller, many students were losing steam, with several visibly slumped over tables and moaning. And as the likelihood of a victorious Kerry seemed more remote, smokers began to fill the Marvin Center terrace to ease their stress.
At about 2 a.m., CNN viewers were told that a voting malfunction would delay the announcement of Iowa’s results until the next morning, after which supporters of both candidates were moved to the Hippodrome on the third floor for the remainder of the night.
With the mix of the parties in the Hippodrome, and the battle for Ohio becoming ever more important, the atmosphere in the Hippodrome became slightly contentious. Shouts of “We own Congress” emanated from College Republicans as Democrats glared in response.
As news reached campus Wednesday morning that John Kerry was planning to concede the election as Ohio’s votes made Bush the winner, spirits were generally subdued.
“It’s a little too early for him to concede,” junior Eric Herd said. “I mean, I’m upset, but I’ll get over it.”
Freshman Rachael Baird had only one word to describe how she felt: “depressed.”
Bush supporters whole-heartedly welcomed Kerry’s decision to admit defeat.
“I’m glad that it’s not turning into the same fiasco like we had in 2000,” said senior Lindsay Einstein, referring to the five weeks it took for the 2000 contest to be decided. “I voted for Bush, but if it was the other way around, I would have wanted Bush to concede. (The 2000 election) shouldn’t become the precedent.”
Some Democrats attempted to look at the positive side of Kerry’s loss. In addition to failing to unseat Bush, Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and Senate, where they were already in the minority. Tom Daschle, the Democratic Senate minority leader, narrowly lost to Republican challenger John Thume in South Dakota.
“I hope the Democrats learn from this loss,” freshman Jeff DeFlavio said. “Moving the middle 10 percent doesn’t work, they need to embrace real, traditional, liberal values.”