President Barack Obama swept to victory on Tuesday night, sparking celebrations across campus among Harvard students thrilled to see the president reelected.
Cheers rang from the dorms around Harvard Yard, and members of the Harvard University Band marched out in freezing weather to play the national anthem in front of the John Harvard statue. One student ran through the Yard draped in an American flag.
Students—more than three-quarters of whom supported Obama over Republican opponent Mitt Romney in a recent Crimson poll—rejoiced at watch parties in many Houses and campus hangouts.
In the steamy interior of the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, packed with students munching on wings and following CNN on a big screen, election viewers stood on tables and hugged the nearest friend. As the room erupted into chants of “U.S.A.” and “Obama,” Matthew L. Maxwell '15 enthused, “I don’t have words. I have syllables. Sweet baby Jesus.”
Another student embraced her friend and shouted, “It’s over. It’s over.”
Obama’s victory marks the triumph of an administration that championed health care and immigration reform, crafted the bailout of the auto industry, and poured billions into an economy struggling in the wake of the 2008 recession.
The economic concerns of American voters shaped the progression of the campaign, as candidates parried over the lukewarm economic climate. Romney campaigned on a platform to shrink the government, ultimately failing to craft a message that could unseat the incumbent president.
Adan Acevedo ’13, president of the Harvard College Democrats, called the result “a resounding endorsement of President Obama to keep fighting for the middle class.”
News outlets announced as election night went on that Obama had carried the crucial swing states of Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, enough to reach the necessary 270 votes to win in the electoral college. Florida and Virginia remained too close to call when newscasters announced Obama’s victory.
Until Tuesday, the polls showed Romney and Obama within a few points of each other. During the first debate, Romney’s unexpectedly strong performance narrowed the previously significant gap between the candidates to thrust Romney ahead. Since then, the candidates ran neck-and-neck as the weeks wound down until Election Day.
As the candidates devoted the final weeks of the campaign to canvassing, Harvard students also hit the streets, venturing to New Hampshire and Ohio to try to push their chosen candidates over the edge.
“Campus has been very energized,” Zak T. Aossey ’14 said. “People can make a difference.”
During the weekend preceding the election, 203 students—a record high for the—showed up to campaign in New Hampshire, according to Acevedo.
Harvard rallied around Obama financially as well. Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law School, raised $579,865 from Harvard-affiliated donors by the end of September, dwarfing Romney’s $60,636, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Their contributions formed part of the rush of money into both presidential campaigns that made this election cycle the most expensive in American history.