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5
Nov 08
Wed

My election night experience

This has been excerpted from my Backbench article.

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA — November 4, 2008. The student lounge began filling up at 3.00pm, as the first polls around the country began to close on the East Coast. The flyers advertising the event said that no alcohol would be provided, but nonetheless, cases of beer and bottles of wine had been procured — though hopefully they would be used to toast to victory rather than drown our sorrows.

The mood was light and positive. Whenever CNN, or MSNBC called a state for Obama, people would cheer. When states were called for McCain there was silence, but, most notably, never were they any jeers or booing.

East Coast counting was well underway when I had to go to class just after 4.00pm, with some toss-up states shaping up to be a close battle. There was a large amount of distraction during a normally engrossing class on international deal making.

In class, I kept refreshing the New York Times’ “Big Board” summary page and various liveblogs and saw Obama’s EV count edge slowly up past 100, 150, and then 200. It hovered there for a while, with states such as Indiana, Missouri, Florida and North Carolina still hanging in the balance. Iowa fell to Obama. By 6.45pm, I was crawling up the walls as class ran overtime.

I got back in time for the 7.00pm round of polls to close to find that the student lounge was standing-room only. It was relatively uneventful for that hour, but we were kept entertained, not least of all by reporters appearing “via hologram” on CNN. There was the occasional cheer as various other less-crucial states were called, but the real lead up came just before 8.00pm, when the West Coast polls were due to close. Obama was still about 60 EVs short of hitting 270 and anticipation was growing in the atmosphere.

As CNN counted down the seconds to 8.00pm, the crowd joined in.

Five. Four. Three. Two

The projector screen went blank. A second of confusion, then the first boos of the night. The television feed had been lost.

Continue reading this article on the Backbench.

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