Four years ago, I was watching history in the making at an 80,000-strong election rally for then-Senator Barack Obama, the last stand of the 2008 presidential campaign, in the outskirts of Washington DC in Northern Virginia. The next day, on November 4th, huddled in the basement with my entire high school graduating class, we waited for election returns to come in. As we held our breath, the polls from the liberal West Coast states closed. ‘CNN Projects Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States’ flashed across the TV screen. Everyone went wild. Tears of joy were shed as the thought of the first African-American US president became reality.
Today, voting in my first eligible presidential election through absentee ballot, I watch the returns from a flat in St Andrews, Scotland. I’m surrounded by five Republicans (they are not Junior-Year Study Abroad students), five Democrats, one Brit, one Scot, and one Norwegian. Although I may not be in the US, I’m enjoying these demographics.
And so it begins….
1:30: Arkansas goes for Romney. Interesting how far President Bill Clinton's state has gone from solidly blue to solidly red.
1:40: Representative Chris Murphy becomes the new Senator of Connecticut, replacing Independent Democrat and Al Gore's 2000 Vice Presidential choice, Joe Liebermann. His Republican opponent Linda McMahon spent over $70 million from her fortune as former CEO of WWE. Lesson: money can’t buy you love.
1:45: Virginia voters who were in line at 7pm ET still get to vote. People are still voting in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Too close to call.
1:50: Time is ticking for Romney to lock up Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. He'll need those states to get to 270 electoral votes.
2:00: Polls close in Utah, Montana, and Nevada. All have semi-close races in the House of Representatives, Senate, and Presidential elections. Nevada has been a close presidential swing state for its significant Latino and Mormon populations. As of right now, I'm hopeful that Obama will carry Nevada, but I think Dean Heller will win against Rep Shelley Berkeley, the Democrat, in the Senate election. Utah will also be interesting to see a House race between the incumbent Democrat in the Salt Lake City area and the Republican candidate who has been groomed for future potential within the party. She is Black, Mormon, and staunchly conservative.
2:01: An argument breaks out as to whether Mitt Romney looks presidential or not. There is only consensus on Ann Romney looking 'First Lady-like.' I don't know what that means, but I think has something to do with the height of her hair.
1:57: Florida and Virginia still too close to call. Everyone is tense. A few sips of beer are taken; a gulp of wine.
2:06: Norwegian comments on US attire of the newscasters. Of course.
2:10: South goes red, East now blue, West goes red minus New Mexico and Colorado
2:11: Bob Kerrey of Nebraska is compared to the guy drinking from a cup in the final scene of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade.
2:12: People start hating Florida. No surprises.
2:30: Pennsylvania goes for Obama.
2.50: Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Joe Donnelly in Indiana take the seat from Republicans. Republicans are going to have to take a long, hard look at their Party tomorrow as they see their chances of retaking the Senate slip away once again.
2:58: New Hampshire goes for Obama. A New England sweep.
2:59: “There's a whole lot of weed on the ballot," says Brian Williams. “Denver is the new Amsterdam” claims one of the Americans in the room.
3:00: “Joe Donnelly would look like Donald Draper if he aged very poorly.”
3:10: Utah goes Romney. Say What?!
3:16: Claire McCaskill wins re-election. Legitimate Rape = legitimate loss for Todd Akin
3:38: The Brit wants a 2016 Biden campaign; Republicans want a John Huntsman 2016.
3:48: “Savannah Guthrie is a hottie”- it’s getting late.
3:50: Talk of the fiscal cliff. It’s way too late. There are groans all around.
4:00: Debating whether to go to our tutorials tomorrow. Fourth presidential debate begins.
4:01: ‘Road to 270’ graphic comes back on; everyone starts yelling at the TV
4:05: California, Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon go for Obama. This time last election, Obama was elected.
4:40: Ohio is called for Obama. Obama wins re-election! Republicans look visibly disappointed but wish the best for the country. The Democrats are elated, the champagne bottle is popped, and there are hugs all around. We’re all ready to go to bed.