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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Election Night live blogging from Portland

Midnight - Things are dead at the White Eagle. The band stopped playing about ten minutes ago. I'm about to clear out my tab and call it a night. Whatever ever happens tomorrow. Whatever happens in the next four years. Everything in America right now is golden. I want to hang on to this as long as I can. I haven't felt any semblance of pride in my country for far too long. Here's hoping the afterglow goes on for a good long while. We all need it. My laptop battery is dead. Good night and good luck and all that, USA.

11:00 PM - Things were dying down by the time I got to the Oregon Democrats' party at the Convention Center. The doors were open and no one asked for a ticket. The Merkley room was cleared out and a few hundred people were still lingering in a gigantic convention hall. The size and scope was immeasurably huge in comparison to the tiny setup the GOP had at the Benson this year. I'd hoped to grab a "President Obama" sign but they were gone. There were plenty of $10 "Barrack socks" still up for grabs though.

10:00 PM - The crowd set up shop in the Square. Someone started a spontaneous rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." More tears of joy and some members of the crowd tried to start a dance circle. The sound of cars honking in the background was constant. America had just won a political World Series. Cops stood on the edges of the Square, smiling.

9:45 PM - Back outside, a large crowd behind a group of drummers marched down SW Broadway. I watched them pass and followed them as they made their way to the Benson. Shouting and raising their fist in the air, I had no idea what was going to happen next. Were these people going to storm the hotel and Smith's shindig? There was a definite French Revolution-vibe in the air or at least a vague resemblance to a regular season European soccer riot. A bald guy with a "Hope" poster jumped up on the front steps, leading the crowd in a "yes we can" chant. On the upper floors, women in cocktail dresses peered out of the windows, some with their jaws dropped, others took photos with their cell phones. The potential for class warfare was offset by the crowds decision to head down to Pioneer Square instead. Somewhere in the fray, a grandmotherly women held up a Barrack button while shouting "HISTORY, IT'S HAPPENING!"

9:15 PM - I waived goodbye to my colleagues and headed downtown in search of the GOP party at the Benson. In the sitting lounge on the second floor a group of teenage girls in dresses were camped out and bored out of their skulls, their parents still probably living it up elsewhere. Everyone inside a banquet hall covered in Smith and McCain/Palin signs was focused on the Smith/Merkley race, which is too close to call even at this hour. Women wearing furs were mingling with men in grey suits. Martinis and an open bar. Did I feel completely out of place? Uh, yeah. I hung around for about three minutes and turned down the (presumably) free booze on hand.

8:30 - More tears of joy and shouting inside, only interrupted by McCain's concession and Obama's powerful victory speech in Chicago. A woman to my right kept us updated on the Smith/Merkley race. No idea where she was getting her information from. Among the decor: a "Bush bitch box," a countdown to his days left in office and a "Pin the Arm on McCain!" stand-up. A drunk guy from Columbia kept yelling "SI SE PUEDE" during any pause in Obama's speech. A very earnest guy from Florida loudly professed his love for his home state and its decision to swing blue this year. Meanwhile downstairs, a few hundred hipsters all danced their asses off to Journey and Bruce Springsteen.

8:00 PM - We wound up inside shortly after CNN declared victory for Obama. Couples kissed, girls cried, everyone hooted and hollered, someone fired a bottle rocket that almost flew from the sidewalk and towards the crowd but was deflected by a bush. Love, joy, hope, all of it was in the air.

7:30 PM - My small group encountered a long line snaking around the Jupiter Hotel at the Doug Fir earlier tonight. Some short guy, dressed as Hunter S. Thompson, buzzed around the porch constantly sucking on a cigarette holder as we waited to get inside. Facing a long wait and cold temperatures, we were about to bag it when a guy in a suit, carrying an American flag, decided to jump a fence and, well, landed on his crotch. He crumbled in pain but quickly pulled himself together and headed back inside for another drink. If he wasn't willing to go home after landing a blow like that then how could we wuss out?

It's now past 11:30 and it's over. Barack has won and I'm listening to a funk/jazz band in a back booth at the White Eagle as I type this. A small, mellow crowd is still lingering at the bar. Everything above doesn't qualify as "live blogging" but, eh, here it is anyway.

6:59 PM - Things seem downright subdued at the Convention Center. All I could see from the outside was a few people milling about in the hallways and a bunch of balloons tied to a parking sign. Had to park ten blocks from the Doug Fir. Wonder if we'll even be able to get near the place.

6:34 PM - OHIO! OHIO! OHIO! YEAAAAAAH! Thoughtful political analysis is likely to only descend into further "woo hoo"s and "YEAAAAAH!"s from here on out. Go, Obama go!

6:26 PM - Heading out the door here in a second. The plan is to meet up with people at the Portland Mercury's shindig at the Doug Fir and see where the evening goes from there. I wasn't sure how to dress for this so I'm going with a pair of slacks and...an old t-shirt. That might not fly at the Benson so I'm packing my black wool jacket and a sweater to use as a disguise. Maybe a shirt and tie would be a smarter move. We'll see. Updates may be spotty for the next few hours but I'm hoping I'll have access to an iPhone. Photos to come...

6:22 PM - CNN: 174 Obama, 69 McCain. One pundit on CNN just made a mention of Gordon Smith using Obama in his ads instead of McCain.

6:13 PM - Aha! Via KGW I finally figured out where the the biggies from the state GOP are hanging out tonight: "Oregon Republican Party will host Senator Gordon Smith, Allen Alley, and area Republican legislative candidates at the Benson Hotel 309 SW Broadway Portland, Oregon."

6:07 PM - Blogtown's coverage of Election Day only goes to show that I was looking for craziness in all the wrong places this afternoon. One bit from the blog: "'I saw Gordon Smith shaking hands in a MAX station today and all these people were scurrying away from him!' said a woman..." More here.

5:57 PM - Bob Packwood, Tonya Harding, Neil Goldschmidt and now Phil Busse. Can the Beaver State ever land national attention for anything besides debauchery and the occasional tourist section spread? Supposedly, Busse's lawn sign stealing crime spree cost him his job and landed him on the Drudge Report earlier today.

5:46 PM - Gaffe time. A political analyst on Northwest Cable News just said, "The state of Georgia hasn't gone with a Democratic candidate since Reagan." Whoops!

5:42 PM - Looks like Pennsylvania is swinging blue. Don't call it a blowout just yet...

5:37 PM - If I'm going to do this whole live blogging thing up proper I should probably be offering "analysis" instead of eating cupcakes. Er.....ummmm....working class voter turnout in....uh...let me get back to you on this after Chuck Todd on NBC explains everything to me.

5:30 PM - Mmmmmmmm.....nonpartisan Election Night cupcake....or is it? Can I trust that peace symbol?

5:14 PM - "Realism is the best way to describe the mood at the McCain camp in Phoenix tonight." So says a CNN correspondent. Things look downright somber down there. Meanwhile, the crowd is already enormous at Grant Park in Chicago.

5:10 PM - Here's a handy widget:

5:00 PM - Florida is swinging blue so far? Awesome.

4:53 PM - I spent part of the afternoon on NW 23rd. The only sign I could find that there was a major election going on today was in the Starbucks on NW Overton. A lot of people were heading in for those free cups of coffee. I wonder if the staff would have given one to a 12 year old if they'd claimed they voted this afternoon. I still haven't heard if the whole promotion actually breaks the law. I headed home along SW Broadway, expecting to see Merkley or Smith supporters waiving signs at passing cars but things were pretty quiet down there.

4:40 PM - A friend of mine works for a company that has put together this "data visualization tool for election-related Twitter conversations." It's sponsored by Tropicana and, so far, it seems like most of the users following Election Night are using the words "rally" and "war" the most so far. Weird.

4:28 PM - Ok, off I go. It's been a while since I last did this sort of thing and I think keeping everything in a single post might be the way to go. I'm currently sitting in my living room but I plan to head out in search of Election Night parties around 6. I still hope to find a way into the Oregon Democrat's stronghold at the Convention Center.


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