Freshman Sam Goldstein stood 15 feet from the White House gate, where three men climbed a tree next to him and shouted a message that made him uneasy: “Four more years.”
Goldstein, an ardent social conservative who voted for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, said he’s afraid that those four years will mean more setbacks for the issues he cares about, like preserving religious liberty and blocking same-sex marriage.
But he marched to the White House after Fox News called at about 11:30 p.m. that President Barack Obama sealed up 270 electoral votes to clinch a second term.
“I’m not here to enjoy it. Just to witness it,” Goldstein said, admitting that he was heavily outnumbered at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Before some ventured to the White House, conservative students gathered in the Marvin Center’s Continental Ballroom. As Romney’s chances dwindled and broadcasters called more states blue, the enthusiasm fizzled. In particular, Republican Senate candidates like Connecticut’s Linda McMahon, Massachusett’s Scott Brown and Virginia’s George Allen that many in the room campaigned for fell hard.
Most of the College Republicans’ executive board spent the election’s final days in Massachusetts campaigning for Brown, who lost by seven points to the liberal icon Elizabeth Warren.
At the White House, when Goldstein spotted sophomore Aria Marrogi, who gripped a Romney-Ryan poster and draped an American flag around her shoulders, the two GW Catholics embraced.
“I needed that hug,” Goldstein, an international affairs major, said.
Marrogi was looking for safety in numbers, too. As she carried her sign advertising the Republican presidential ticket, White House revelers flipped her off. One girl later shouted, “Shut up and go the fuck home.”
Most people didn’t care that there were Romney supporters though and focused squarely on celebration. But the sweep of hostility dispirited Marrogi.
“I might talk a lot of smack but I at least respect Democrats’ opinions,” she said.
Marrogi and Goldstein described themselves as “extreme social conservatives.”
Marrogi said she thinks Romney’s Mormonism may have capped some Christian voters’ enthusiasm. She added that nominating Rick Santorum in 2016 would be Republicans’ next best shot at the White House.
According to exit polls nationwide, most voters pinned their decision on which candidate would help spur the economy. The same was true at the College Republicans watch party, where conservative students buzzed earlier in the night about what an Obama loss could mean.
“I’ll have a better chance of getting a job if Romney is elected. The progress Obama has made so far is next to nothing,” freshman Will Rodenberg said. “I have doubts on where I’ll be financially. I’ll be disappointed if he loses, but I’ll be among friends.”
Michael Viviano, a freshman history major, said as Romney’s chances were thinning that even though Obama’s reelection would mean more “gridlock,” he would still watch the celebrations.
“I’ll go to the White House then drink myself to sleep,” he said.
Goldstein, who is from Hampstead, Md., said at the White House that he was mostly concerned about the “HHS mandate,” the Obama administration’s new rule that requires insurers and employers to include coverage for contraception.
He said he “tried to get friends and family to vote against” the Maryland gay marriage amendment, which called unpopular in the state.
Maryland approved the ballot initiative about an hour after the presidential election was called.
Romney voters stood in the vast minority at GW, with about 68 of students saying they supported Obama, according to a Hatchet poll last week of 602 students.
“It’s frustrating being at a school where most everyone disagrees with you,” Goldstein said.
And the sad reminders kept coming at the White House: “My mom just texted me, ‘Oh, Obama won,’ ” Goldstein said. “Thanks, I know mom.”
As more people streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue, Goldstein and Marrogi walked back to the Foggy Bottom Campus against the sea of cheer. Marrogi still had two chapters of her history textbook to read, and the group would finish their night with a bowl of soup in the Newman Center.