In Keeney, hope turns to despair as states turn red

Friday, December 15, 2006

An evening that began with excitement and hope among John Kerry supporters in Keeney Quadrangle became increasingly depressed as the night wore on, culminating in rage and sadness as President Bush seemed poised to win a second term in office.

The exit polls looked good for Kerry, and many students gathered in lounges and rooms to watch election returns, mostly on CNN, and later, on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.” In one third-floor lounge, students posted a large map of the United States to mark down red and blue states.

“I feel like I’m way too into it. I don’t think it’s too healthy. I might have to go to Health Services tomorrow,” said Jhale Ali ’08, one of the students maintaining the homemade electoral map.

Amelia Rosenman ’08 had spent the day in New Hampshire working on get-out-the-vote efforts for the Democratic Party and was optimistic about Kerry’s chances in that state. “It really felt like a movement,” she said, convinced that he would win there – as he did.

But election results did not pour in – they came at a trickle, annoying many students.

“I don’t care about the 6 percent rule in Missouri. I want them to call a state,” said Christine Livoti ’08, as one analyst explained partial results around 9:40 p.m.

“It’s funny that they can talk so much and not say anything,” Erin Wetherley ’08 added.

Several students sat in an Everett House double watching election returns on TV while looking up county-by-county results in key swing states on CNN’s Web site for a more detailed picture. John String ’08 said that “it’s looking pretty even” around 9:50 p.m., and while Justin Spiegel ’08 was becoming unhappy about the returns from Ohio and Florida, he said CNN was doing an “okay job” of being cautious about projecting winners.

But Peter Catsimpiris ’08 said he was “pretty pleased” with the indicators from the battleground states – he is a Republican.

When Pennsylvania was called for Kerry around 11 p.m., students burst into excited cheers. Owen David ’08 exclaimed, “Pennsylvania rocks!” But half an hour later, he said, “I want something else to be called already. The anxiety.”

As Western states went for Bush, and Florida followed, tensions seemed to fray. In the third-floor lounge, one student kicked a chair against a wall in frustration. The energy that had pervaded the lounge earlier seemed to have vanished.

“As an Ohio voter, I’m panicking, and I’m praying to the god of good luck,” said Shai Muthana ’08 around 12:45 a.m., as the election seemed to hinge on that state.

When NBC called Ohio for Bush around 15 minutes later, Charlie Custer ’08 responded with a colorful curse. Some students reported that at least one person simply “lost it” over the news and became violently angry – “I was afraid to walk in the hallway,” a student said.

“People are definitely assuming that Bush won right now,” said Cara Farber ’08.

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