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When H. Stuart Hughes walked into his election night headquarters at the Statler-Hilton hotel last night, a tremendous cry of victory filied the room. At the time Hughes had less than four per cent of the reported vote, or roughly 5000.
But the actual totals meant little when Hughes spoke; the more realistic workers in the campaign had not really expected many votes. Just the fact that they had a headquarters, and that Hughes was there, was victory enough.
Only one door away from the huge Peabody headquarters, Hughes supporters seemed extremely happy just to be part of it all. During the first part of the evening a television camera dominated the room, and the Hughes people were delighted to have it and to watch themselves on TV.
The Hughes room was quite different from the others on the floor. Peabody's headquarters buzzed with constant activity, constant television interviews, and an air of almost unbelieving optimism about actual victory. On the other end of the hall a small group of old ward politicians sat in a circle smoking cigars, watching their candidate--Sweepstakes Kelly--and their own brand of machine politics die a slow death. By 10:30 p.m. they turned off their one television set and just sat quietly.
A TV set in Hughes' headquarters also was off--because it broke down.
Unlike the other headquarters, Hughes' room was populated almost entirely by students, most of them from Harvard or Radcliffe. Also different was the way the Hughes supporters looked at the vote.
Peabody's people talked in terms of vote totals; Hughes' men spoke of percentages. Unconcerned with the general state trend, Hughes workers watched for returns from about 20 precincts.
These precincts were divided into three groups, according to the amount of campaigning done in each. To everyone's surprise, and perhaps discouragement, in the districts where Hughes workers had campaigned "intensively," the Independent appeared to have only five per cent of the vote. In "non-intensive" wards, however, he often did as well as nine or ten percent. Failure of precinct counters to report Hughes' totals along with those of the major candidates made any predictions of Hughes' strength difficult.
No matter what the vote, Hughes and his backers were convinced they had accomplished what they set out to do: inject a discussion of the arms race into the campaign and set an "example for a new style of politics." Hughes predicted that "hundreds" of candidates would run on similar platforms in '64; his supporters hopefully but enthusiastically agreed.
On an otherwise bleak night for supporters of Hughes, the little town of Boxbury, Mass., provided a gleam of light. Results in Boxbury: Lodge, 14; Kennedy, 71; and Hughes, 259.
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