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‘The future of the country’

As third-​​year North­eastern stu­dent Alyssa Nagpal watched cov­erage of the elec­tion on Tuesday night, she was over­come with both excite­ment and anxiety—so much so that her body was shaking.

“I’ve got my heart and soul in this elec­tion,” said Nagpal, who vol­un­teered for the Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and U.S. Senate can­di­date Eliz­a­beth Warren cam­paigns in Massachusetts.

Nagpal joined more than 150 people—some decked out in Amer­ican flag t-​​shirts, polit­ical cam­paign but­tons and even one red and blue bow tie—who crowded into the after­HOURS lounge in the Curry Stu­dent Center for an Elec­tion 2012 watch party. Nine TV screens dis­played elec­tion cov­erage all night as Philip D’Agati, assis­tant aca­d­emic spe­cialist in the Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence, called out elec­tion num­bers and pro­jec­tions over a micro­phone. D’Agati is the fac­ulty advisor for the Inter­na­tional Rela­tions Council, the stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion that hosted the event.

At approx­i­mately 11:15 p.m., when news­casters began pro­jecting that Pres­i­dent Obama had been re-​​elected, the largely Democratic-​​leaning crowd roared with excitement.

Reached by phone late last night, Robert Gilbert, the Edward W. Burke Pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence, said, “It was a good day for Democ­rats. Not only did they keep the pres­i­dency, but they also kept the Senate. I really think the Repub­li­cans thought they’d win, and I thought Mitt Romney was telling the truth when he said ear­lier he hadn’t pre­pared a con­ces­sion speech.”

But Gilbert also struck a note of cau­tion, making the point that it won’t be easy for Pres­i­dent Obama to govern the country for the next four years given the bitter feel­ings between the two par­ties. He added that win­ning the pop­ular vote in addi­tion to the Elec­toral Col­lege would aid Pres­i­dent Obama in accom­plishing items on his polit­ical agenda.

Stu­dents Zach Hrynowski and Elise Lecrone check elec­tion results at Tuesday night’s watch party. Photo by Kristie Gillolly.

At the campus Elec­tion party, Casey Liston and Marissa Korn, freshmen from the crit­ical swing state of Florida, watched with anx­iety as the results from their home state rolled in.

“We kept watching the Florida results go back and forth,” Korn said. “Someone would be leading, and then it would be tied again. It was exhausting.”

Liston, Korn and fellow freshman Xander Miller arrived at 6:30 p.m., and the uncer­tainty of the pres­i­den­tial election’s out­come com­pelled them to stay until a winner had been named. “We kept saying we’d leave after the next round of results, and soon enough it became all night,” Liston said.

Throughout the evening, students—surrounded by red, white and blue balloons—remained glued to their smart­phones, hud­dled around lap­tops and engaged in polit­ical dis­cus­sion and debate as results trickled in. Some projects led to shrieks, while others gar­nered applause. Nonethe­less, many said they showed up to share the elec­tion night expe­ri­ence with their fellow Huskies.

“I came here for the com­munal expe­ri­ence,” said Mike Rosen­thal, a freshman finance major. “This is the future of the country, after all.”

Johanna Fred­erick, a freshman polit­ical sci­ence major, recalled watching the 2008 elec­tions with her family in New York, noting that CNN showed scenes from other coun­tries where cit­i­zens were watching U.S. elec­tion cov­erage. This year, she said, would be no different.

“What hap­pens in this elec­tion goes beyond our country,” she said. “The world is watching.”

Alan Schroeder, pro­fessor of jour­nalism and an expert in pres­i­den­tial debates and elec­tions, said Barack Obama’s re-​​election vic­tory rep­re­sents “a tri­umph of data over instincts.”

“The Obama team ran a numbers-​​driven cam­paign, effec­tively tar­geting the voters they needed and ensuring that those voters got to the polls,” Schroeder explained. “Repub­li­cans have never under­stood Obama’s appeal to the Amer­ican public; this led the Romney forces to under­es­ti­mate what they would need to do in order to unseat him.”

Also in Obama’s favor, Schroeder noted, was the president’s role in post-​​Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, which gave him a last-​​minute oppor­tu­nity to remind his sup­porters what they liked about him.

– by Greg St. Martin

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