After being inundated with messages from Democrats and Republicans over the last few weeks, Virginians in Blacksburg were ready for a different kind of party Tuesday night.
Bars Downtown were packed with patrons who came out on a weekday evening, excited to usher in the next president of the United States and the end of a grueling election cycle. Local residents and students alike sat side-by-side eagerly awaiting election returns from a presidential race coming down to the wire.
“I think it’s always exciting when people get together to watch something besides sports, especially in a college town,” said Julia Novario, a bartender at The Cellar. While the atmosphere was low-key earlier in the evening, an energetic crowd packed the bar after the polls closed. Applause filled the air as a big screen television tuned to CNN announced projections.
“It’s getting much busier than usual, for sure,” a harried Novario said between pouring pints.
The Free Thinkers at Virginia Tech were among The Cellar’s rush of clientele. The non-partisan student organization decided to convene at the bar, which typically attracts professors and graduate students.
“Coming together with other people who want to think things through is important to our organization,” said first year masters student in philosophy Dan Linford, the group’s SGA representative. He sat at a table with other members of his organization.
“In ancient Greece, people would gather in the marketplace. Bars are places where people congregate in our society," he said.
While the group did not endorse a candidate, members were interested in how religion played a role in the outcome of the election.
“One of the things we promote as an organization is thinking critically,” Linford said. “The rhetoric of religion and politics is concerning to members of the group.”
Poor Billy’s also saw a remarkably large rush of customers.
“Usually we’re not this crowded on a Tuesday,” said Mia Chernick, hostess at Poor Billy's and a sophomore Psychology major. Chernick did not take sides, but was excited nonetheless.
“Regardless of what happens tonight, people should be celebrating, going out with friends to grab a drink or some food. Our democracy is a great thing,” Chernick said.
Several groups of students supporting President Barack Obama were at Sharkey’s for trivia night, but turned their attention to election coverage between questions.
“I think it’s going pretty positively for Obama,” said John Miller, a senior environmental policy and planning major.
He was excited that the president was doing well in Ohio and Florida, but worried that Virginia would not support his candidate.
At Top of the Stairs, opinions were more divided. While everyone could agree on karaoke, not all were in lock-step on whom they supported in the race for the White House.
“Being from a single-parent family, I agree with Obama’s policies,” Courtney Jiggets, a senior chemistry major, watching election coverage at the bar. “He’s great for students. I don’t think I would be in college without him.”
While Jiggets sided with the incumbent, her friends disagreed.
“Romney’s economic policies will take us forward,” said Jenn Harvill, a senior history and political science major. “I’m still looking for the change Obama promised in ’08.”
At the bar at Champs, more were concerned about the color of their shots than the color of the states.
“For each swing state, if it goes red, we do a red shot. If it goes blue, we do a blue shot,” explained Chris Colemanm, a Tech alumnus from 2005.
“Stop cheering, we’re not cheering for any candidate,” he shouted, as analysts called another state.
With the presidency and congressional seats decided, the last question is who will pick up the tab.