Iowa City Dems Fill Night With Cries Of Joy

This story was written by Olivia Moran, The Daily Iowan


At 10 p.m., "Yes we can" became "Yes we did." And screams of joy hit the ceiling of the Iowa City Sheraton ballroom as projector screens announced Sen. Barack Obama's victory.

Scores of weary campaign workers in the crowd wiped tears from their cheeks - not just tears of joy, but of relief.

"I'm finally able to relax," said Iowa City resident Jennifer Hinkhouse. "I'll be able to sleep."

Shortly after 1 a.m., Obama had collected 338 Electoral College votes compared with Republican challenger John McCain's 144, according to the Associated Press. Obama trounced McCain in Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points.

In the state that first hinted at the freshman senator's potential, celebrations hit the streets. Roaming packs of University of Iowa students and adults alike celebrated the victory by howling at each other on the Pedestrian Mall.

At Formosa, bartenders doled out more than 100 electric-blue "Obama-tinis" throughout the evening.

The more subdued crowd toasted "to change," a last tribute to the Democrats' well-rehearsed motto.

After two years of gritty campaigning, they said the toasts were well-deserved.

"Four years ago, I said I would never give my [energy] to another candidate ever again," Hinkhouse said, giddily swilling a Corona.

In 2004, she was photographed looking worried and frowning as Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry lost state after state to President Bush.

Obama supporters worked until the very last minute. Hours earlier, the Johnson County Democrats' headquarters, 625 S. Dubuque St., sat empty as volunteers carpooled to different precincts and anxiously made phone calls to registered party members.

Around 9 p.m., the last stragglers headed to the Sheraton.

Meanwhile, roughly 15 Johnson County Republicans sat quietly at their headquarters in Coralville, nursing half empty soft drinks at tables cluttered with leftover food.

The mood was gloomy as the McCain supporters slowly began to shuffle out close to 11 p.m.

McCain "did everything he needed to do. This just wasn't a good atmosphere for him," said UI College Republican Chairman Greg Baker, who was covered in McCain/Palin stickers and buttons.

All of the candidates have held more than 2,000 campaign events in Iowa since January 2007, the highest number by hundreds than any other state.

In Iowa, McCain hosted 100 fewer campaign events than Obama. Obama visited the state 178 times - making appearances, attending meetings, giving speeches - compared with McCain's visit count of 75, according to a Washington Post campaign tracker.

Bill Keettel, the head of the Johnson County Republicans, said the loss didn't come as a surprise.

"We've been told by the press for so long that this election is over," he said at 10 p.m. Tuesday, already referring to McCain's opponent as "President Obama."

Support for the McCain campaign started to dwindle in October. The Gallup Poll's final national pre-election numbers showed last week that Obama led by 12 percentage points.

Coralville resident Jeff McDowell said it's fair to say that some voters didn't realize McCain's abilities.

"I think our country's dumbing down," he said. "People don't look at the issues. I would like to see people think for themselves."
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