Over 300 people packed into Gert’s bar Tuesday night to watch the U.S. Presidential Election, as many students struggled to find seats in view of the televisions, and the bar ran out of pitchers and glasses.
Emilia Lenke, President of McGill Democrats Abroad and U2 Political Science and Marketing, was pleased with the turnout.
“I think the turnout is great, but we expected that,” Lenke said.
As CNN called states for Obama, the crowd clapped, and became even more enthusiastic when crucial states like Ohio, Pensylvania, and Virginia were called. Most did not cheer when McCain won a state, and a number booed.
Some of the onlookers were skeptical of the media’s projections, noting that CNN often called states based on exit polls and prior electoral history – well before actual votes had been counted.
“Every time they put up a projection, I get excited. Then I have to step back and realize it’s not real,” said Simone Lindenbaum.
Many students also sang “God Bless the USA” and “America, Fuck Yeah” during lulls in the broadcast.
Peter Fusco, U2 Music, draped himself in an American flag.
“I didn’t vote…half-apathy, half-political statement. While I like McCain, Palin turned me off. While I like Obama, I’m worried about the Democrats having unchecked power,” he said, referring to the predictions that the Democrats would control both houses of Congress. “Everyone in here is a liberal conformist who is voting for Obama despite not knowing anything about the issues.”
Although the audience was overwhelmingly pro-Obama – many toting Obama/Biden campaign stickers handed out by McGill Democrats Abroad – at least one person entered carrying a “Vote for McCain” sign. They were promptly booed.
In addition to passing out stickers, McGill Democrats Abroad helped over 200 Americans obtain absentee ballots, and called registered voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Lenke. McGill Students for Obama helped 40 students travel to New Hampshire during the campaign.
At 11 p.m., when CNN projected Obama’s victory, the crowd raised their glasses, clasped hands, and huged and kissed each other. For two minutes the bar was filled with people chanting Obama’s slogans.
“I just hope he doesn’t let us down. Everyone’s holding him up to this impossible standard – like Jesus,” said Jordan Rowell, U2 International Development Studies.