When it was called
that President Obama had won a second chance in the Oval Office, the entire ballroom exploded in emotion. Chants of "We Love You, Obama," rang through the air, a gay couple next to me celebrated with a kiss and a hug, three African-American women next to me cried tears of joy and the rest of the New York Democratic Party accepted the truth that, yes, Mitt Romney's name would disappear from American political thought for years to come.
Throughout the night, speeches were made by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who quoted the Black Eyed Peas around 9pm: "Tonight's gonna be a good night," for Democrats, that is.
Once it was announced that Senator Kristen Gillibrand was re-elected for another 6 years, she also came to the podium and prescribed America with an Obama victory. She followed suit with a call to unite as New Yorkers against the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
As I talked to Democrats about the night's events, the message was evident: tonight was a victory for them, plain and simple. The Senate stayed in their control and the executive branch would stay blue. But, to get personal, my most important moment came as I made my way out of the Sheraton. An African-American man passed by me, murmuring to himself, "Four more years, four more years."
He embraced me with a hug and told me he didn't have enough money to get back to New Jersey. After I gave him what I had, he hugged me again, thanked me a hundred more times and moved on, continuously murmuring to himself, "Four more years, four more years."
As you walk up to the second floor of the swanked-out Sheraton Hotel on 53rd and 7th, you're met with the smiles of twentysomethings no older than myself. Donned in black suits and hopeful grins, the New York Democrats have stacked the ballroom with their supporting demographic armies: the young ideologues that ushered Obama into office (side job: presumably - and, unfortunately - the unpaid interns), the older white men from the Carter days and an assortment of members from all races. And, to remind us of where we are, a banner that states "New York State, Progressive Capital of the Nation."
Videocameras and spotlights are all focused on an empty podium on a stage that has an enormous American flag draped across it. CNN is on the television and Blitzer, Cooper and the rest of the channel's 'Election Night in America' brigade are spitting out results from the closing polls left and right. And everyone, myself included, has some sort of drink in their hand to ease themselves into what will be a long, long night.
When I asked one of the younger Democratic folk what the sequence of events would be in the coming hours, he looked at me with a confused look on his face. "I just got here," he said, "I have no idea what's going to happen. It's going to be a free-for-all."