Election Night Blog: The Washington-Area Buzz

NBCWashington.com enlisted a team of bloggers to track the local and national races Election Night.  Take a look back at the historic coverage.

Wednesday, 2 a.m.:

How did the youth vote influence the election?  Check out this video

-- Michael Flynn

Tuesday, 11:30 p.m.:

The reaction at George Washington University speaks for itself:  Watch the video


Political news from the U.S. Capitol, White House and around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Biden warns Trump could select two more Supreme Court justices if re-elected

Tens of thousands of Marylanders receive pardons for marijuana convictions

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

Tuesday, 11:20 p.m.:

It is still sinking in here. Right after my last post, major networks projected Sen. Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States. There's so much going through my mind and body right now, I'll try to put it into words.
First of all, this place is euphoric. My dad used to work on political campaigns, and he once told me there is nothing like being at a winning camp on election night. I experienced covering a losing camp last year, and though exciting, it is nothing compared to this. It's like these people just won the World Series. And believe me, I'd know what that was like, I was in Philadelphia last week. But if it is possible ... these people are happier.
I dare you to try and find a dry eye in the crowd gathered here. Not just an escaped tear down the cheek ... no, I'm talking sobs. I wonder if it is exhaustion, relief or joy. Or maybe a combination of all three.

As a 23 year old, it is a powerful thing to experience. It doesn't matter who I support, or who anyone supports for that matter. It's about participating. It's about involvement. And with this election I saw something I was afraid would never happen. I saw my generation care. I saw them wake up and pay attention. And I would venture to say, I saw them make history.
Who knows what will come next, but isn't that the best part about it?
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 10:57 p.m.:

With Stevie Wonder playing in the background, Kaine and Co. took the stage to announce that Barack Obama is the projected winner of Virginia.
I think I'm now partially deaf. Seriously. The roof may have just blown off this place. I feel like I'm at a football game. People are high-fiving, embracing and chanting. The chant has changed, though.
Virginia democrats are chanting, "YES, WE DID."
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 10:40 p.m.:

When in Rome do ... um, nevermind. 

We've buddied up with a reporter covering the election for the Italian press. 

Via the wonders of the Internet, my midsection was just featured on the latest update to Italia.

My mom will be so proud.

The trusty reporter says hi:  Watch the video

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

Tuesday, 10:35 p.m.:

Senator-elect Warner just took the stage to massive applause. Senator Webb joked that Warner is the JUNIOR senator from Virginia, but then turned serious as he reminded everyone that Virginia has not had two Democrats in the U.S. Senate since 1970. This win, though somewhat expected, is a huge deal for the party here in VA.
Warner was on stage with his wife and three daughters. He told the crowd that even if he finds his ego gets too big on the campaign trail, all he has to do is come home to a houseful of teenage girls and that ego quickly deflates.
Though everyone was really into the victory speech from Warner, you could sense that they were a little distracted and searching for a TV screen to look at. Why, you ask? Virginia is STILL too close to call.
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 10:30 p.m.:

So I jumped in a cab and arrived at yet another party in town, this time for the Democrats. It's the DCCC and DSCC election night watch party. The scene here is completely different from that of the RNC party. For one, the only lights in the ballroom are those coming from the news cameras and TVs situated around the room.

People group together in front of the TVs cheering and booing as each state is projected for either candidate. While I was walking around, McCain was projected to have won Louisiana  ... the immediate response was booing. The crowd is filled with energy!  

Yet even with the numbers as they are, Michelle Lancaster, a Virginia native, told me she will not be relieved until the final vote is counted.

"We will never say that it's over," she said.  "I think that every Democrat that went through 2000 and 2004 will never say it's over. ... I think it's going to be a while."

And as long as the music keeps on and they keep pouring drinks, most here welcome a long evening. Videos and pics are on the way! 

-- David Culver

Tuesday, 10:15 p.m.:

NBC4's Charlie Bragale loves his sunflower seeds ... on election night.

Feeding the newsroom...
Free food is a precious commodity in any newsroom, and NBC4 is no different. Today, the local news department has pizza of all kinds delivered in. Free pizza? Must be a special day.
But one food item never on short supply is sunflower seeds. Confused? As am I.  But it's the truth. Like a plague, the sunflower seeds obsession has spread.  Did it begin with reporter Miguel Almaguer? Did it begin with Desk Manager Charlie Bragale?

I'm unsure of this, but one thing is for sure:  You can probably see up to 10 people with sunflower seeds in their mouth at any given time. But News Director Camille Edwards made one thing clear: "No seeds on election day!"
Yeah, right.
In other news ... the place goes relatively quiet for once to hear senator-elect Mark Warner make his victory speech. That's a big local election, and the Virginia shift to blue could have national implications.

-- Adam Winer

Tuesday, 10 p.m.:

I just had a really cool conversation with Wendy Rieger's boyfriend, Frank. He is from Ireland, and he came and joined the crowds here at the Hilton to watch this historic night. I hadn't really thought about the global view on this election, although (WOW) according to him this night is going to have a resounding effect around the world.
For the past year, Frank says the Irish press has featured at least one story a day about the American presidential campaign. That's a lot of stories about a completely foreign government. And it is not just Ireland ... the whole world is watching with baited breath.
Frank says his family overseas is staying up all night to watch the results. Keep in mind, they are five hours ahead. It doesn't matter, because they believe fiercely that the balance of the world, peace and economy will pivot one way or another depending on this election.
In case you were wondering, Frank says they are devoted Obama supporters overseas for the most part ...
Side note: We are moving on from the "WOOOOOO."  When something really big, like Obama winning Ohio, chants of "YES WE CAN" start. This place may explode if Virginia goes blue.
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 9:50 p.m.:

Apparently they've had to start turning people away here at the Tysons Corner Democratic watch party.
Julie Carey, one of our reporters here, just told me they had more than 4,000 people RSVP to this event!  If that doesn't tell you how excited people are about this campaign, I don't know what will. People are even sitting against the wall in the lobby, just trying to be a part of this. One reporter who has been doing this since 1992 says she has never seen anything like it.
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 9:40 p.m.:

George Washington University's Marvin Center is packed with college students rooting for Barack Obama or John McCain.

Hundreds of students are crowded into the Continental Ballroom where the college Democrats are cheering for Obama every time a state is called in his name.  There's barely any room to move.  Everyone's eyes are fixed on a giant projector wall on one side of the room.

Right next door in the Grand Ballroom, the college Republicans have gathered, too.  It's a smaller crowd, only about 75 to 100 students, but they've got plenty of energy. 

Whenever a state is called for McCain, they're cheering too.  They're also clapping each time a Republican U.S. senator is projected to be a winner.  My favorite part of that gathering: the mechanical bull that's set up here.  I just got on it and lasted about two seconds.  My side-kick tonight, Brendan Williams-Kief, rode it too and didn't last much longer.  The head of the campus Republicans, Brand Kroger rode it right after us. He did pretty well.

There's definitely a lot of energy on both sides.  Time Magazine has called this "The Year of the Youth Vote," and it shows.

These college students are politically active and filled with excitement.  The returns keep coming in.  I'll post again later.

Check out the videos:

GW Dems Cheer For Obama

GW Republicans Cheer For McCain

Michael Flynn Rides The Bull

Brendan Williams-Kief Rides The Bull

-- Michael Flynn

Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.:

Weeks if not months of planning, and decades of experience, have gone into this one night, and it shows.

The News4 studio

The NBC4 newsroom is efficient and effective.  When something hits, everyone reacts and knows exactly what their role is.  No confusion here. We're smoothly balancing the local news with the national news and getting our local reporters to all the right spots.
Political reporter Tom Sherwood has been covering elections since he began his reporting career in 1964. He says this feels like a typical election so far. No major real surprises yet.
The slots debate in Maryland is just starting to leak in.  The pro-slots vote is slightly ahead, but it's very early. Lots of people are talking about it and keeping a close eye as the numbers come in. This newsroom is still buzzing. People talking and watching and writing and talking and watching and writing.
Miguel Almaguer says things are going smoothly at Arlington County elections office.

Perhaps about 80 percent of registered voters came out to decide this "toss-up" state. Incredible.

With over 65 percent of precincts reporting in Virginia, the race between Obama and McCain is a near dead heat, with McCain getting 50 percent to Obama's 49 percent. Virginia is definitely the state to watch right now.

-- Adam Winer

 Tuesday, 9:25 p.m.:

The air has gone out of the room at the GW college Republicans party as Ohio is called for Obama. 

Meanwhile the GW college Dems are ecstatic.  The election is far from over, but the momentum, at least as far as return parties at GW go, is now in obama's favor.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

  Tuesday, 9:15 p.m.:

Gilmore just called Warner to concede a few minutes ago, making former Governor Warner the current Senator Warner.
Check out the enthusiasm of the crowd when Gov. Tim Kaine announces Warner has won and the party has really started:  Watch the video

-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 9 p.m.:
What a difference from less than hour ago!  The ballroom here at the RNC party is now packed. Just before 8 p.m. all of the press corps was escorted into the ballroom for the start of the event. It is so crowded that we had to go in groups staggered by a few minutes.    
Inside, opening remarks were made by Chairman Mike Duncan and Co-Chair Jo Ann Davidson with both promising "a long night" ahead. Just as they finished the band started and with it the party.
Now in the front section of the ballroom (where the stage is) there are about 6 big TV screens with Fox News Channel playing on every single one. We were not allowed to leave our roped off "press area," so it made talking to people a little difficult. I was, however, able to ask a few questions to some of the guests. Despite losing Pennsylvania, most were very optimistic for the night's outcome saying that they're expecting McCain/Palin to pull through. And almost everyone echoed the idea of it being an "all-nighter." 
-- David Culver

Tuesday, 8:55 p.m.:

And now, the George Washington University Dems returns party:  Watch the video

-- Michael Flynn

 Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.:

One thing that is standing out here at the Democrat watch party in Tysons is the diversity of the crowd. Don't roll your eyes, I know that is so cliche to say, but I don't really know how else to describe it.

I have seen every age, color, nationality, shape and size in the short couple hours I have been here. There are the overeager (I mean that in a good way) college kids. Of course, there are the seasoned political junkies. I've seen some older couples taking it all in with their better halves. There are a lot of families with their cameras out and ready. Some people even have their adorable little children decked out in Obama and Warner gear. Which brings me to the next thing ... the outfits.
It brings up an interesting point. What is the dress code for these things? It's in a fancy hotel, and it's an enormously publicized night and event. So some people here look like they stepped right out of a magazine. I'm talking dressed to the nines. And colorful, too. It's like everyone put on their Sunday best to come out and party. But let's not forget about those die-hards. You know who I'm talking about. The people who covered every inch of themselves with campaign gear. Seriously, where do you find some of this stuff? They may have the right idea, though, showing support while maintaining their comfort ...
By the way, I'm starting to learn the art of the "WOOOOOO." Some are for fun, but there's a sense of urgency behind the cheer when it really means something big. Best example so far ... when Obama won Pennsylvania.
OK ... off to check out the food and see what else I can get into.
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.:

Check out the scene at Busboys and Poets:  Watch the video

-- Michael Flynn

Tuesday, 8:10 p.m.:

The newsroom Energizer Bunny, Ede Jermin.

The newly tabbed "Energizer Bunny" (in part because she's wearing all pink today) is Ede Jermin, our News Planning Manager. Other newsroom energizers are Charlie Bragale, our Desk Manager, and Matt Glassman, our Special Projects Manager.
Matt is keeping close tabs with NBC News, giving us the updates before they even hit the air, such as the announcement that former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) is now to be Sen. Mark Warner. That's big news.  Is it a sign that Virginia is to go blue tonight? Maybe, but Warner was expected to win anyway.
Charlie and Ede are joined by Carlos Martinez, Milton Shockley and Michele Tetu on the assignment desk. Reporters are on the move.  Miguel Almaguer reported short lines at the polls in Arlington, so he's now headed to Arlington National Headquarters, where they will be counting the votes.
Glassman is yelling out what NBC News is projecting as they come. The Maryland vote going to Obama caught our interest, but as Carlos notes, "Pennsylvania ... that's a big one."  Political reporter Tom Sherwood agrees. "Of [the newest states announced], Pennsylvania's the only one with any significance."
The stats and the states are coming in fast!
We're also keeping a close eye on the slots referendum vote in Maryland.

-- Adam Winer

Tuesday, 7:55 p.m.:

Wonder what the RNC ballroom looks like?  Well, you're in luck.  Follow me ...

Take The Tour

-- David Culver

Tuesday, 7:50 p.m.:

At least some happy news, sure to encourage the revelers here at the Democratic party in NoVa.

Former governor Mark Warner defeated Republican Jim Gilmore (also a former governor) pretty decisively. It's not a huge surprise -- he held a 30-point lead in some polls coming into today.
Looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Let me tell you a little bit more about the scene here.  The main room has flat-screen TVs mounted on what seems like every wall space possible. The media is perched on two levels of risers overlooking the crowd, milling around with their drinks and food.  I'm starting to get used to cheers breaking out in the crowd, without thinking something monumental has happened. It is early in the night, so any graphic that pops up showing the Democrats in the lead seems to warrant a great big "WOOOOO!" from the group.
Major media outlets are still saying Virginia's "too close to call" in the battle for the White House. My prediction? No matter who wins the state, a huge collective breath is going to be released when we do find out. It's either going to be a heavy sigh of disappointment, or a large whoosh of excitement. Stay tuned.
I've found myself a spot in the back hallway, where I see about a dozen people doing the same exact thing as me -- running around, taking it in, and then logging reports. 
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m.:

WOW!  Busboys and Poets at 14th and V is bumping.

We're talking major lines at the door -- around 200 people are braving the rain in hopes to get into the place. 

Management says they're at capacity and that was just after 7 p.m.

This crowd clearly favors Obama and they're not shy about saying it.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

Tuesday, 7:35 p.m.:

Well, I have arrived at the Capitol Hilton for the RNC Election Night celebration. I have to say I was taken back by how many young people were running around helping out with the event coordination. They have all of us (members of the press) put in a room with several conference tables and three big TVs. I decided to go off on my own and explore a little bit before things started. 
I was able to get a peak into the main event ballroom. The room is pretty impressive. I'm getting a video uploaded now so you can see for yourselves.
Because it's still early not many have arrived. I'll be sure to keep you updated as the VIPs of the Republican party show up.  
-- David Culver

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.:

Greetings from the battleground state of Virginia!
I've just arrived at the Hilton in Tysons Corner where Democrats have gathered to watch the presidential election results come in, watch the key Senate race between Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore along with several other closely contested match-ups, and well ... party a little bit.

It's been a long road to get here, and you can tell it is with nervous excitement that everyone is filing in.
My trip here was anything but smooth. Decling a ride from the station in favor of driving myself turned out to be a bad idea. I should have known better, given my directionally challenged history. But when I finally did pull in, you should have seen the parking lot! There's not a space to be found. (So wish me luck finding my car when I trek out of here later.)
I walked into the hotel lobby to find a massive line of people waiting to get in the main viewing room. As if on cue, seconds later the line quickly moved as doors opened. Cheers went up, but tentative cheers in my opinion. Virginia is normally a "red" state, so the fact that during this election, there is a chance it could go "blue" for Obama has the state party on eggshells waiting to see if the massive campaigning efforts pay off.
I'm going to go explore some more.  The results for Virginia should be finalized sooner than most of the country, since the polls now have been closed for a full half hour here in the Commonwealth.
Much more to come ...
-- Kate Shaw

Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.:

Adam Z. Winer here in the NBC4 newsroom this evening. 

It's an all-hands-on-deck night, and there's been a nervous kind of electric energy streaming through here all afternoon. 

On a usual evening, things tend to relax at around 7 p.m. after the evening shows are over.  Tonight it's just the opposite.  Very busy and crowded.
I'll be updating everyone on the "newsroom buzz" and paying attention to how our team handles this exciting evening.

Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.:

Just left a popular watering hole with the Capitol Hill set: The Hawk and Dove on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. 

Click here to watch the video.

As I expected, at 6 p.m. it was already jammed.  I ran into a couple already waiting on returns.  They staked out a spot by the wall across from the bar on the left side of the business.  On the TVs, all eyes were on CNN, which was expecting to start getting new exit poll numbers within a matter of minutes. 

The couple, Chris and Lauren, expect to stay as long as it takes to find out who's going to be the next president.  Chris says he was at the bar back in 2000 when the election was so close that no one even knew who the winner was when they went home for the night.  He remembers boos and cheers from watchers on both sides of the isle as the numbers started coming in. 

He says it'll be a fun night.  I bet he's right.  We're now heading to Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets NW.  It's all decked out with red, white and blue.  I'll check in later.

-- Michael Flynn

Tuesday, 6:25 p.m.:

Capitol Hill is in full Election Night party mode. 

Pennsylvania Avenue is humming and folks are pouring into and out of their favorite watering holes or hangouts.

The mood is optimistic on both sides as we quickly approach the first set of poll closures. 

Both the Hawk and Dove and the Pour House are as full as they are on a typical weekend night. 

We don't yet know the name of our next president, but we already know the word of the night: WHOOOOOHOOOOO!

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.:

Michael Flynn prepares for his liveshot via Skype.

 Flynn (pictured) prepares for his liveshot via Skype. 

The GW College Dems and Republicans will hold competing returns parties. 

The festivities will feature a jousting competition and mechanical bull rides. 

Michael can hardly contain his excitement...

-- Brendan Williams-Kief 

Tuesday, 4 p.m.:

Bob Meyer sent the following e-mail to nbcwashington.com:

"I voted in Northern VA this morning (at Fox Mill Elementary in Herndon) using a paper ballot. The form says "use a #2 pencil or the marker provided."  But the officials in charge weren't providing markers, they were handing out BLUE ball point pens.  Can anyone verify that the ballot scanners accurately read BLUE Ink?  If not, a great many votors have been disenfranchized today."

We checked with Fairfax County Elections Registrar Rokey Suleman, who said the ballot scanners will read all ink colors except red.  So the ballot scanners will work as planned...

-- Jim Iovino

Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.:

We're on the hunt right now for the best election night return party.  I'm out in the field with assignment editor Brendan and Eddie Durkin.  Our first stop was around 3 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets, NW.

The place looks like a political party's official election night returns headquarters. There's red, white, and blue bunting outside.  Inside they've decorated the place with balloons and party favors.  Cable news channels are on the flat panel TVs and the place is already full.  Most people appear to be there for the food and drinks, but the restaurant expects a lot of political watchers to show up tonight along with about six TV stations (including NBC4, of course). 

Our next stop: George Washington University.  The school's holding a returns party there that gets underway at 5 p.m. in the Marvin Center.  Hundreds of students are expected to show up there.  I'm gonna be live there on News4 at 4 p.m.  I'm slated to go at 4:45. See you then...

-- Michael Flynn

Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.:

And we're off.  So begins our thunderous trek through the D.C. election party scene. 

Ed Durkin and Brendan Williams-Kief begin their night covering the election.

Ed Durkin is charged with delivering us safely from hot spot to hot spot. 

Our chariot of fire for the evening is a 1998 Subaru Forrester

The mission for reporter Michael Flynn and your trusty blogger -- document the highs and lows of the festivities ... and hopefully come out of it alive. 

Check back throughout the night for live updates.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief

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