A large gathering of students, mainly Obama supporters, waited in Renshaw for two hours to find out the outcome of this year’s presidential election during a live screening of the vote counts for all federal offices.
They were ecstatic when the president’s projected victory in Ohio put him over the 270 required electoral votes and wrapped up a difficult campaign against Gov. Romney.
“I was surprised at how early the race was called,” junior Jaimie McDonald said.
Starting at 6 p.m., the students gradually filed into the classroom. Susan Currie Sivek, assistant professor of mass communication, greeted them and invited all to help themselves to free pizza and candy.
She also passed out “I Voted” stickers to those who cast a ballot and Bingo cards to keep track of important comments in NBC’s coverage.
Similar to previous “Pizza and Politics” events on Linfield’s McMinnville Campus, Sivek invited students to participate in the political conversation on Twitter and other social media websites. All posts have the hashtag #jelection.
Throughout the screening, students marked their Bingo cards and finished the pizza while engaging in plenty of animated conversation about the election.
Students in Sivek’s Mass Media, Politics, and Public Opinion class also asked their peers specific questions for a class assignment, including who they predicted would win the presidency and what the most important issues of the election were to them.
Other significant conversation topics included the measure to legalize gay marriage in the state of Washington and measures to legalize marijuana in Washington and Oregon.
After NBC’s projection of an Obama victory, most of the students left. Only six stayed until the end of the president’s acceptance speech around 11 p.m., including McDonald.
“I think it was worth it. It was important to me that I saw it through,” she said.
McDonald, an Obama supporter from the state of Washington, also kept a close eye on its marriage equality law.
By 9:54 p.m., she could finally relax. Romney was congratulating Obama on his victory in Boston, and the law passed.
Her county of residence, Snohomish County, was the last to turn in its results.
McDonald, all smiles, received hugs from several friends. She said, “I was excited and surprised to see the marriage equality law passed.
“It will change the culture of the state because we’re so divided. I’m excited and a little nervous to see how it turns out.
“Now it’s official. It’s not turning back.”
The state’s first gay marriages will be legal on Dec. 9, according to McDonald.
As for Washington’s marijuana legalization, she said she approved but had concerns.
“Marijuana will definitely change the political scene. Now that the state can make revenue off it, I think it is a positive move. However, the issue of ‘DUID,’ or ‘driving under the influence of drugs’ could be difficult to deal with,” she said.
After the screening, Sivek was critical of NBC’s election coverage.
“One of the things that surprised me was Donald Trump’s tweets and how they were covered by NBC and then not addressed in any way,” she said. “To me, it seemed like no news.”
Sivek also noted that on Twitter, Obama’s tweet of “four more years and the picture of him hugging Michelle” got the most retweets as of election night with half a million shares.
Political science professor Matt Hindman and music professor Anna Song were also in attendance along with Song’s two children.