Sitting in a Canaday room with several other first-years last night, Nathan S. Edwards '98 of Nashville stared at the television and tried to come to terms with a new reality. The election returns were coming in, and Democrats from his home state of Tennessee had lost.
"I'm renouncing my Tennessee state membership," Edwards said. "Every Democrat lost by like 30 points. My mom said we're moving!"
Edwards was one of dozens of Harvard students who huddled around common room TVs to watch the election returns. The night offered a series of heretofore unthinkable horrors for Democratic students, and limitless good news for Republicans.
In the Mather House TV room, Daniel Muino '95 said he enjoyed watching the GOP gain ground in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
"This is a sign of a lack of support for Clinton. It is clear that he does not have a mandate," Muino said. "Hopefully, this is an anti-incumbent fervor that will last through '96 and see his demise."
Jeremy D. Fiebert '97 and David J. Eilenberg '97, watching returns from their room in Dunster House, said they were frustrated by the GOP victories.
"The Republican gains are disturbing," Fiebert said. "Their agenda is more in line with the older generation. The country will not benefit from their election."
Eilenberg expressed concern that the Clinton administration will have trouble passing legislation through a Republican-controlled Congress.
"Clinton has to realize that they'll make it more difficult to compromise," Eilenberg said. "He will really have to stick by his ideals over the next few years."
Eilenberg, a California resident, said that regardless of the results of this election, Clinton will be re-elected. "Despite the fact that people are reacting locally, the GOP doesn't have a viable candidate in '96," he said.
At the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics, tables and bleachers set up for the event were packed. All three floors of the ARCO Forum were filled with anxious spectators eating, drinking, talking and, most of all, watching the results.
The atmosphere was festive, and balloons and streamers framed signs for candidates. Blackboards ringed the room where students marked the results as they came in.
"It's like a holiday here," said Steven R. Hill '98.
Like many people there, Hill and his friend, Mike T. Marcucci '98, were keeping a running tally of the ebb and flow of Senate seats.
"If the Republicans get a majority in the Senate, he has to wear an Oliver North button tomorrow," Marcucci said. "If the Democrats win, I have to wear a Clinton-Gore pin."
Mary A. Tonougar '46, sitting at the same table, had a bit more riding on the results.
"I've been working for two months for the 'No on Nine' campaign against lifting rent control," she said. "I've been living in Cambridge for the last 32 years and in the same apartment for the last 29. My whole life is here. If the proposition passes, I'd have to move out where I know no one."
When CNN's coverage paused for other programming, a panel assembled by the JOP took center stage, discussing Republican victories and answering questions from the audience.
Other than a few snickers when one of the panelists was introduced as an environmental adviser to the Bush administration, the crowd fell silent and listened to the opinions of the assembled political experts.
Many of those present were interested in seeing coverage of elections from other parts of the country.
"I'm most interested in the races in California," said Jason M. Waanders '95. "That and Virginia. Those of us who are afraid of Oliver North getting elected are very interested."
In spite of the variety of races followed and the different political views expressed, the crowd united twice in its support for the outcome of races. A cheer erupted from the crowd when it was announced that Kennedy had won re-election in the Massachusetts race for U.S. Senate.
But the response for Kennedy paled in comparison to the full minute of sustained applause for Chuck Robb's victory over Oliver North in the Virginia Senate contest