Election Night '09: One Giant Step Forward for Political Technology Spells the Death of Drunkenness, Suspense, and Political Theater

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"When I was a political sapling, people drank, fucked, laughed, and cried on Erection Night!"
In the olden days--and by olden days, I mean, like, four years ago--a substantial amount of people attended election night parties without the benefit of: (a) a hand-held internet connection, and (b) having voted two weeks prior via mail. What ensued was a stew of suspense that kept the average attendee's eyes glued to the tube and lips glued to a pint glass, as results trickled in well into the night. If nothing else, it made for more laughter, more tears, more drunken farewell sex among campaign staffers (hence the nickname "erection night"), and more late-night room service orders on a candidate's final dimes (thanks for those 12 Reubens I summoned at the Westin after midnight, Maria!). In other words, a night to remember.

But nowadays, iPhones and their ilk have rendered the NWCN return ticker pretty anticlimactic, and all-mail voting means just one tally announced on election night--at 8:15, no less, thus allowing anyone who so desires a perfectly legitimate excuse to pack it in before exposing oneself to the slightest whiff of inebriation. (Full disclosure: I was one of these early-birds last night, but I had to drive my wife to the airport at 5 a.m.)

Of all the parties that could have erupted into full-tilt benders last night, those rooting on Pete Holmes, Mike McGinn, and gay rights were the likeliest candidates. And yet all of them were tamer than a napping K-9 unit hound. Of the three, only the R-71 party seemed like it came close to delivering, and I'd argue it'd have reached a heightened sense of debauchery had there been more than one early-evening tally made public throughout the night.

McGinn's race was too close to call at 8:15. That, coupled with a midnight deadline (in some places, supposedly, but not all, per comment below) to get ballots to drop-boxes, compelled his campaign to essentially shift from party to work mode in a last-minute phone and field push. Blame that understandable duddening on the new all-mail format.

But perhaps most telling was the school-night behavior of Holmes' biggest backers: local nightlife impresarios hell-bent on unseating Tom Carr (mission accomplished, gang!). Granted, the party was held at a glass-blowing studio, but there were still plenty of libations on hand. And yet, observed Nina Shapiro: "His commanding lead buoyed a crowd that needed few drinks to celebrate. Beer and wine was available, but few partook. Perhaps it was the space--not a bar or restaurant but a glass blowing studio, with fanciful creations all over the walls and ceilings, and several artisans pulling molten goo out of the oven even as election results flashed across the TV screen. The abstinence was ironic because the crowd included nightclub owners who had come out strongly for Holmes and against what they considered Carr's Puritanical approach toward drinking, as evidenced by his crackdown on clubs known as Operation Sobering Thought. Attendants included Quentin Ertel, owner of the Capitol Hill club Havana, and Marcus Charles, proprietor of Belltown's Juju and and an investor in the Crocodile. Maybe they went off later to down a few."

Well, maybe. Or maybe they're not the after-hours hellcats that Carr made 'em out to be. But most assuredly, in the "olden days" they would have likely stuck around to down a few. Call me a curmudgeon, but I'm already nostalgic for that era.

 
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