Loud cheers echoed through the third floor of the Marvin Center Tuesday night, as hundreds of students in both the GW College Republicans and GW College Democrats gathered to watch midterm election results roll in.
For the more than 40 students who showed up for the CRs event in the Continental Ballroom, watching the map of the U.S. turn from blue to red during the election returns was a long-awaited event.
“I think it’s overwhelmingly positive for Republicans,” said junior Will Frey, the vice chairman of the CRs, as he watched the election results broadcast on Fox News. “Taking back the House [of Representatives] will give the party a louder voice to the national audience, and gives [Rep.] John Boehner. [R-Ohio,] a seat at the table with [President] Barack Obama and [Rep.]Harry Reid, [D-Nev.]”
The national outcome – a 64-seat gain in the House for Republican candidates – was said to have been a reflection of the public’s outrage over Obama’s policies.
Despite witnessing Republicans slide to an overwhelming victory in the House, and gain a number of Senate seats as well, the CDs were in high spirits about the future of their party at the Election Night Watch Party.
“I think we were definitely energized, because we were happy with what we knew we were going to get,” said freshman Tyler Wolanin, one of more than 100 students who attended the CDs watch party in the Grand Ballroom. “In New York, everyone kind of knew that Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were going to win, but they still got big cheers.”
Members of both groups said they were focusing on the races going on in their respective home states, and either cheered or jeered when results were slowly announced.
“I’m from Florida, so [Republican Senator-elect] Marco Rubio winning is the highlight of my life,” said sophomore Cori Stone, who also worked as an intern for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “I’ve literally poured my life into these races, so this night has been rewarding.”
One race that also hit home for both student organizations was the Kentucky Senate campaign, in which GW Law School alumnus and Democrat Jack Conway lost to his tea party-backed Republican competitor Rand Paul for the open seat. Both campaigns were filled with politically dirty efforts. This race was said to be the test for whether the anti-taxation tea party could achieve success on the national level.
As early as 7:15 p.m., CNN projected Paul had won the seat by a 12 percent margin.
“It’s disappointing that Jack Conway lost, but that doesn’t bother me as much as Rand Paul winning,” said sophomore Emily Melden, a member of the CDs. “It’s not really the loss as much as the win that’s irritating.”
For many CRs who had experienced the elaborate celebrations on campus after Obama’s election in 2008, Tuesday was a highly anticipated chance for Republicans to congratulate themselves on a large-scale win.
“In ’08 I was campaigning for [Sen. John] McCain in Ohio and was really disappointed about the night,” said senior Travis Holler, the executive director of the CRs. “I think a lot of Republicans figured that Obama was really just a lot of hot air.”
Holler said that with Republicans in power in the House, legislation will finally be passed that reflects the ideals of the majority of the country.
“The agenda that [Obama] was setting, which was too far left, was too extreme for a moderate America,” Holler said.
Program Board sponsored the election-watch events, providing both groups with rooms and facilities that were equal in size, as well as a mechanical bull for the CRs and an inflatable jousting den for the CDs.
After CNN made an official announcement that the Democrats were going to lose the House, the president of the CDs took the stage and reminded students not to give up, and reassured them that he thought they could take back seats in two years.
“I think the fact that there are more Democrats than Republicans here tonight shows that the enthusiasm is still here,” Josh Altman said. “I think it shows the fight and the spirit of the Democratic student body at this University that hangs on for the long haul, even when the going gets tough.”