Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
While they were never rewarded with a clear victor despite their patience in watching election coverage last night, Swarthmore students waited it out in locations scattered around campus. Students could watch in Upper Tarble, the WRC, and the IC, as well as in the dorms. The Gazette profiles here a selection of the various venues.
Upper Tarble saw a steady crowd of hundreds of students streaming in and out last night to watch election coverage by the NBC network on a large rear-projection screen. The hosts of the event, the Swarthmore Voter Registration Coalition (SVRC), had many rows of chairs and several tables of steadily replenished pizza and soda. Students sprawled out on blankets directly in front of the screen and filled the rows of chairs, talking tensely to their neighbors. A brave few tried to do homework while the majority of the crowd paid close attention to the results being announced. Loud cheers erupted for states which were called Democratic; the loudest cheer coming after Pennsylvania was decided Democratic, with analysts citing the Philadelphia suburbs as key in the state’s leaning towards Kerry. Some professors were also among the crowd at Upper Tarble, and college president Al Bloom and his wife also made an appearance.
A crowd that peaked at more than 60 people, including a good number of on-campus residents, filled the lounge in Mary Lyon during the election coverage. The ML audience was completely Democratic. Students utilized the split screen, usually with ABC and CNN or MSNBC as the other choice. Residents switched over to the Daily Show for an hour to provide some laughs in the very tense room. ML, as always, provided a supportive and friendly environment. Most students made sure to pay very close attention to the television commentary while a few attempted to trudge through their homework. Shortly before 2:00 a.m. roughly 35 people still remained in the lounge.
At 8:00 p.m. the New Dorm crowd was already raucous with 30 people watching election returns. The solidly Democratic crowd cheered every time Pennsylvania was mentioned or a state was projected for Kerry. Free pizza and sodas arrived at 9:00 courtesy of the men’s soccer coach. By 10:00 p.m. the crowd had swelled to roughly 75 people, with the crowd running out into the hallway. Viewers switched between CNN, NBC, and Fox News primarily, although they took a break at 10:00 for the Daily Show special. By midnight the crowd had thinned out with only 15 loyal viewers remaining. The merry mood present earlier in the evening was replaced by grim faces and cynical remarks. By 1:00 most of the crowd had disappeared with most of those remaining doing homework.
Around 15 all-night watchers as well as about 50 people who cycled in and out watched the elections in Mephistos last night. A large map of the USA was posted on the wall and states were shaded in either blue or red when CNN, the channel of choice, called a state for either candidate. Around 9:30 men’s soccer coach Eric Wagner showed up with an unexpected large stack of pizza. Some soda was also around, and all of the viewers were able to eat their fill. At 10:00 Jon Stewart fans turned on the Daily Show. The crowd cheered when results favorable to the Democratic Party were announced, although there were some conservatives mixed in as well.
A group of roughly 30 people crowded around the big screen television early in the evening in Mertz to anxiously watch CNN report results of the election. Dedicated basketball fans were able to watch a couple of games along side election coverage. The channel changed from CNN only to Comedy Central to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Several pizzas arrived early in the evening, a bag of food lay on the floor, and several people brought their own liquor to accompany election coverage watching. Though cheers went up several times as Kerry began to close in on Bush’s lead in the polls, students continued to anxiously sit at the edge of their seats late into the morning, some biting their fingernails, in anticipation of the final election results.
The crowd watching election returns in the Woolman lounge fluctuated, ranging from three to eight but retaining the same sad anxiety at any size. The entirely Democratic audience favored CNN, with a break for The Daily Show on Comedy Central, which gave the viewers a welcome reprieve from their gloom. Woolman residents discovered their inner policy wonks, intently examining maps on the lounge computer and arguing about the population density of certain counties in Ohio. Many peanut butter cookies were consumed, and much work attempted with varying degrees of success. The crowd shrunk as the results slowed to a deadlock.