News4's David Mullins live-blogged the GOP election watch party from the Reagan Building.
11:45 p.m. - The musical act, Collin Raye, just paused for a moment. The lead singer said, "We came here for a party. We had hoped it would turn out different. But we can still party. What else can we do at this point? What else can we do?"
There are roughly 50 guests left in a large atrium that was packed less than half an hour ago. Most who stayed are drinking and just standing by the stage, watching and listening to the band. A smile is not to be found. Conversation is extremely minimal. Disappointment seems to be the major theme among those who, because of the most recent poll results, have come to accept that President Barack Obama was just re-elected for a second term.
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11:31 p.m. - Music is back on. In the middle of a song, the lead singer says, "Grab a drink. Drink, drink, drink. God Bless us all for being here."
11:29 p.m. - Obama wins Ohio and the crowd's energy drops. A lot of people leave right away. The crowd is much quieter than they were the entire night, and everyone seems to keep to themselves.
Many people didn't want to comment. Here's what I got:
"It's kinda depressing," said Martin Paul. "We were working hard to make Mitt Romney president." Then he fell silent."
"It's obviously tough," Steven Howell. "I can't believe he's re-elected. I'm worried about the path this country's on. We need to make sure these plans are put into action."
11:03 p.m. - Big (yet short) cheer from the crowd when Romney took North Carolina. The music didn't stop, however, and guests quickly returned to their food and drinks. It seems as if the win wasn't a surprise to anyone here.
10:57 p.m. - Ronnie Milsap is still on stage. Crowd has died down and dispersed a bit. At least half have gone home (or somewhere other than here).
John Kelly is a volunteer who lives in DC, but is originally from Michigan. He says, "I was disappointed to see my home state called so early to Obama. I don't know. Regardless of how the election turns out, though, we still have a lot of issues to solve and hopefully we can come together as a country."
10:30 p.m. - Reince Priebus just took the stage for a few seconds to say that he will be back a little later. Not sure why. Will update when he actually speaks.
10:20 p.m. - Ronnie Milsap took the stage and is the focus. Guests have gone back to mingling and drinking. Chairman Priebus has yet to speak, but is still expected.
10:00 p.m. - Congressman Pete Sessions took the stage to briefly introduce Speaker Boehner, who was welcomed with thunderous applause (& cheers, etc). Boehner talked about keeping control of the House of Representatives to a crowd that could barely hold in its excitement. Some quotations:
"I want to thank Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but most of all I think we want to thank the American people."
"We offered the American people solutions, and they want solutions."
"We will never take it for granted and we will never let you down. God Bless you and God Bless our country."
9:45 p.m. Nic Breeding is a volunteer from VA. Earlier today, he was at the RNC making calls out to Iowa asking for Romney votes. He made over 200 calls and feels great about the night, but understands there are a lot of states left.
He says, "I believe in grass roots. One-on-one is the most influential way to make a difference."
The large screen is showing Fox News, and the music has stopped for now. People are paying more attention now to the results.
8:44 p.m. - Sharon Day addressed the crowd early, at 8:20. Her speech was roughly 3 minutes long. Very patriotic. Roaring applause at the end. Some quotations:
"We will celebrate a Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan leadership."
"Celebrate, work hard, and unite this country."
"We believe in America. God bless you."
Afterwards, someone (asking around to find out who -- no one in the press area knows) sang the National Anthem.
8:00 p.m. - Grand Ole Opry is on the stage now and will be until around 8:30. At that time, Sharon Day is scheduled to make welcome remarks. They are expecting 2500 - 3000 guests tonight. Everyone is still mingling / eating, very positive and lively. Main focus is the band at this point.
7:31 p.m. - Guests have started to arrive. The band is still practicing. Electoral votes and poll results are occasionally loaded onto the big screen through Fox News. Everyone seems very positive and lively, but currently more focused on the food than the results. Still early. I'd say demographic of crowd is mostly 20-30 years old.
7:11 p.m. -The band on stage in that picture is the John Berry Band. Speeches tonight will be given by Sharon Day, Speaker John Boehner, and Pete Sessions.
Press is confined to a certain area of the party, but I'll pull people towards me for interviews any chance I get.