At 11:25 p.m. on Tuesday, a pack of about 15 students, two of them shirtless and waving their T-shirts in the air, spilled out of Farnam Hall onto the lawn of Old Campus and began a victory lap.
“Obama!” they cheered. “Four more years!”
The sound of Young Jeezy crooning “My President Is Black” emanated from a window of Durfee Hall, as occasional cheers echoed from the distance and the students finished their run around Old Campus.
But the tone on campus was different Tuesday night than it was on the evening of Nov. 4, 2008. Most students did not surge onto Old Campus and no 700-person crowd belted the national anthem. Facebook erupted with celebratory statuses, but after the initial cheers, campus was oddly quiet.
“The reaction wasn’t what I hoped it to be,” Azad Amanat ’14 said.
He compared the relatively modest celebrations throughout Yale with a photo his cousin had sent him of a huge celebration at the University of California, Berkeley. Brandon Jackson ’13, who was at Yale during the 2008 election, said the mood on campus did not compare to that following Obama’s 2008 election.
Despite the election buzz that gripped campus Tuesday, students interviewed said Yale’s relatively liberal student body was more anxious about a Romney victory than they were enthused about an Obama win.
“People who are watching the results come in tonight are expecting relief, not elation, if their candidate wins,” Clair Sulerzyski ’15 said Tuesday afternoon.
When CNN called Obama’s victory shortly after 11 p.m., roughly 100 students watching election coverage on a projector in the Ezra Stiles dining hall cheered, but many soon began gathering their belongings to leave.
A security guard announced the victor over the intercom in Bass Library around 11:30 p.m., said Alex Goel ’14, and later asked students leaving the library, “What are you guys doing studying?”
But Yale College Democrats President Zak Newman ’13 said the turnout rate for Yale students was higher than it was in 2008. Roughly 1,350 people cast their ballots at the New Haven Public Library, representing New Haven’s Ward 1 voting district, which is composed largely of students.
Activists from both sides kept busy Tuesday, rising early to vote and begin a last canvassing effort. By the time most students rolled out of bed, chalk arrows on the sidewalks directed citizens towards the polls, flyers and signs coated the campus and the line for the Public Library polling station already snaked out the door.
The Yale College Democrats spent much of the day knocking on doors with clipboards and calling students’ cell phones to remind them to vote.
Elizabeth Henry ’14, chairwoman of the Yale College Republicans, said the group reached out to every Yale student registered to vote Republican in Connecticut, as well as some unaffiliated students, to make sure they knew where to go to vote.
By the afternoon, the line outside the New Haven Public Library voting station was almost an hour long, with students carrying laptops and books while they waited to cast their ballots and emerge from the library with “I voted” stickers.
Throughout the day, Facebook newsfeeds exploded with politically-minded statuses, with students proudly declaring they had voted, often for the first time, and urging their peers to do the same.
With the election over, campus was largely still by midnight.
Yuval Ben-David, Jeffrey Dastin and Shira Telushkin contributed reporting.