One staffer for Sen. Barack Obamas campaign sat in the corner, propped up against a wall, away from the throngs of peers, student supporters and onlookers, and wept.He said his name was Ben Dalgetty, and he had driven from California for the campaign.He said his 160 days with the campaign had bankrupt and beaten him. Sweat and tears poured off of his red face.I have never loved this country more than I do now, he said.His voice cracking, he buried his head into his knees and couldnt say more.The West Virginia University Young Democrats gathered at the beginning of the evening alongside College Republicans in the Mountainlair for an Election Watch Party set up by the WVU Student Government Associations Engage 08 campaign.As updates on closing polls trickled in, the two sides traded cheers when winning projections were announced.An hour into the watch party, an unknown person grabbed the life-size Sen. John McCain standee that accompanied the College Republicans throughout its campaign the one that greeted supporters at a well-attended watch party for the Republican National Convention hosted by the College Republicans and ran out the door.Im not mad; hes going to jail, president of the WVU College Republicans Chris Walters said.As results were updated, the Democrats filed out, heading to an election watch party at de Lazy Lizard, reserved for the occasion.The Republicans made no such plans prior to the night.There were a lot of signs coming into the night. I was optimistic, but I wasnt nave, Walters said.At the bar watch party, the Young Democrats watched CNN and celebrated.Their celebrations came in waves as anchors announced projected wins, one after another.Woos and boos were delivered by the nearly 100 attendees as wins in Ohio, Vermont and Iowa were tempered by scattered losses.Rounds of shots were bought by some for a win in each state.The loss of West Virginia on the national scale was balanced out by a reported win in Monongalia County.Young Democrats and campaign staffers who worked on the campaign said the county win was satisfying enough.Defiant cheers of Yes We Can, were issued at McCain wins in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.As word of victory in Virginia spread through the crowd via a text message from campaign to a staffer, the jubilation came to a head as winning the election became a reality.At 11 p.m., CNN projected a solid Obama victory as polls closed on the West Coast and final polls closed across the country.The room erupted.Staffers and students howled victory as they jumped on chairs, furniture and the bar itself.The cheers were deafening.Attendees hugged, kissed and cried to each other, talking about the hard road they had taken to get where they were and how proud they are.They cheered Yes We Can, shouted and jumped for several minutes.Jared Towner, an Obama field organizer held his friend Dalgetty as he cried into his shoulder. He said he had worked on the campaign for 160 days, serving two tours in Iraq when he wasnt campaigning.We dealt with bigotry, we had smoke bombs thrown in our office, we dealt with every ounce of s--- you could ever imagine. Towner said, speaking of their time campaigning together in Butler, Pa.We came to West Virginia together and none of us expected it to be like this.We started in Pennsylvania, not even believing we could win Pennsylvania, much less the nation. To get here, man, to get here its unreal, he said.President of College Republicans Walters was gracious in defeat.Earlier in the evening, he predicted that the election would drag into Wednesday.This isnt going to be decided tonight, Walters said. Thats not how elections are anymore.He changed his mind after McCains concession.I mean, we know the result. The next president of the United States is Barack Obama, Walters said.Congratulations. Good night for them theres a lot of milestones that have been made tonight. I disagree wit him on his issues, but thats what the American people want.He said his fellow College Republicans were not pleased with the result.They were upset. Whenever you work hard and campaign for somebody, they dont come out on top, you get upset, Walters said, adding that his peers went home after McCains concession speech at about 11:15 p.m.Im going to keep working. I cant wait until next Tuesday for the next College Republicans meeting.President of the Young Democrats Andrew Barnes was calm in victory.He hardly acknowledged his part in winning Monongalia, which won by 1,200 votes. Barnes said the Young Democrats alone registered between 1,700 and 2,000 voters in the county.He said he was exhausted by the campaign and acknowledged the work ahead of him.My life starts all over again when this day ends.
This story was written by Colin Booth, The Daily Athenaeum