Bush fans turned off their televisions Tuesday night thrilled and smug, while Kerry supporters went to bed shocked and disappointed. At two o’clock in the morning, it seemed likely that “four more years” would be more than just a slogan.
The outcome was far from certain Tuesday night at dinner, when the Hall of Graduate Studies hosted a candidate-themed meal. It was still uncertain in the early evening, when the debate team, a group of fraternity brothers and several law school students attended television viewing parties. And it remained ambiguous at midnight when the Yale College Democrats and the Yale College Republicans remained glued to their screens. By 1:30 a.m., though, when Fox News and NBC called a Republican victory in Ohio, the election seemed to strongly favor Bush.
“Its been fantastic,” Yale Republican Lucas Walker ’06 said. “I have been optimistic all along.”
Most Yalies said they felt differently.
“I did vote Democratic,” Katerina Apostolides ’06 said. “I don’t trust Bush enough to put him in office for another four years.”
Earlier in the evening, at the Hall of Graduate Studies, students had savored a themed dinner complete with Kerry’s Boston baked cod, Bush’s Texas BBQ brisket and Nader’s New England stuffed crunchy squash. Brian Reilly GRD ’07 admitted that he ate the brisket, even though he’s an avid Kerry supporter.
“Maybe I was trying to get my anger out on Bush by mashing it with my teeth,” he said.
Bob Alberino, manager of the dining hall, said the Nader Squash made the least sense, but at least the dish was vegan. After all, he said, Nader is a “tree hugger.”
When students walked into the dining hall, they could vote in a mock election run by Lisa Brandes, the assistant dean for student affairs at the graduate school. At 7 p.m., the numbers on Brandes’ laptop showed graduate students’ clear preference for Kerry, who had received 67 percent of the vote.
As grad students finished their all-American apple pie, more than half the debate team was glued to the television in a Pierson College dorm room. Flipping among Fox, CNN and NBC, the debaters joked, drank and made predictions.
Ariel Schneller ’06, disillusioned with both candidates, announced he should have voted for Aaron Burr. But Schneller had money riding on Kerry: He bet $400 on transport.com, a presidential futures market, that the senator would win.
At an election party at the Barn on Park Street, approximately 15 athletes and fraternity brothers played beer pong, watched big screen TV and raucously cheered for Bush.
Anson Frericks ’06, an Ohio native who plays lacrosse and pledged DKE, expressed pride that Bush had been in his fraternity. He also said he supported Bush’s economic policies.
“When I am on Wall Street, I really don’t want to pay dividend taxes,” said Frerics, who interned for Merrill Lynch this summer.
Josh Zabar ’06, one of DKE’s political black sheep, said he was rooting for Kerry.
“I’m pro-choice; I favor civil rights for same-sex couples,” he said. “I’ve realized that everyone thinks different from me in the frat. I respect their opinions, and I still like them as friends.”
In the Law School common room, around 50 students — most of them Kerry supporters — watched CNN and munched on snacks. Kory Langhofer LAW ’06 described the mood as studious.
“None of us want an election which is not clear,” Carlos Barrezueta LAW ’06 said. “This is a system where litigation is huge.
Anand Kandaswamy LAW ’05 said he hoped a victorious Kerry would nominate Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh to the Supreme Court.
“If Professor Koh is as good a Supreme Court justice as he was a civil procedure professor, then he’ll make a great justice,” he said. “But I guess we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, in one corner of the Pierson buttery, nearly 20 spirited Yale College Republicans huddled around Fox News Channel, surrounded by worn Bush-Cheney posters.
“I think that the surprise is going to be how badly Bush beats Kerry,” said Nick Bond, a New Yorker visiting friends in the group. “I think there’s more support for the president than mainstream media would let on.”
As if on cue, Fox announced a series of good signs for Bush: He was gaining in Wisconsin, and New Hampshire remained evenly split. The group erupted into cheers, and one student hollered, “Yeah ‘sconsin!” Michael Fernandez ’07, who had been analyzing the county-by-county votes in Florida on CNN.com, announced that Bush would carry the state. And Sudipta Bandyopadhyay ’08 shouted “Let’s hear a big hand for our troops overseas!” A round of applause ensued.
Al Jiwa ’06, president of the Yale College Republicans, was especially happy about New Hampshire, where he led a get-out-the-vote campaign last weekend. Though Bush ran strong in the state, Kerry appeared to have earned a close victory late last night.
“I knocked on 250 doors and made 200 phone calls,” Jiwa said. “By then end, some of them were asking for signs for their lawn and for their windows.”
Across the room, Democrat Jackie Zubrzycki ’07, ordered a grilled cheese with egg and bacon at the buttery. She and her suitemates had been watching the election all evening, and she could no longer handle the anxiety.
“It’s more stressful the more you watch,” Zubrzycki said, wringing her hands. “I don’t even want to think about it.”
Several Yale College Democrats, who were lounging in a Lanman Wright common room, also refused to anticipate the outcome. Yale College Democrats President Nirupam Sinha ’06 explained several scenarios that would hand Kerry the presidency, but he would not make any predictions.
“We’d have to go outside, spin around three times and spit,” Maren Ludwig ’05 said.
The group did gloat over the declared Kerry victory in Pennsylvania, though. The Yale College Democrats sent groups of students there throughout the fall to knock on doors and make phone calls.
“We went to Pennsylvania, and baby it’s going all the way Democratic!” shouted Naznee Mehta ’06, her hands in the air.
But as the election dragged into the early hours of the morning, Democratic students waiting for a collective release were disappointed. Kerry’s future looked dismal.
“I’m devastated,” Matthew Lipka ’08 said. “This is an election on which no less than the values of our country are at stake.”
— Staff Reporters Yassmin Sadeghi and James Schulte contributed to this report; additional reporting by Brady Cassis, Jessica Jiang, Terren O’Reilly, Stephanie Speirs, Andrew Uzzell and Micah Ziegler.