Satire | Three days of election night, from a stressed-out poli sci major

By Devi Ruia, Senior Staff Columnist

Election night 2020 has turned into Election Week — A Four-Day Festival Event, featuring aggressively refreshing maps and Twitter, copious amounts of alcohol, lots of stress eating and hours of wondering whether or not Steve Kornacki has had a chance to change his pants.

While we knew returns would take longer than Tuesday itself due to the larger number of mail- in ballots, facing the reality of days of waiting for states to be called was nerve-wracking, and I’m sure we all developed weird coping mechanisms. So, I figured I’d write about the insane and moderately unhealthy ways I spent my time getting through election week. 

Tuesday, Nov. 3

As I blasted Taylor Swift at 9 a.m on my drive to the polling site, I wondered if America would also be “out of the woods” that night. Would Democrats’ “wildest dreams” come true? Or would we need a “getaway car” to take us to New Zealand?

All this and more flashed through my mind during my 10-minute drive to volunteer at my former high school, which served as my polling place. Though I’d voted early in my home state of Virginia, I volunteered with the Blue Ridge Democrats to hand out the Virginia Democratic Party’s sample ballots at the polls.

My time spent at the polling place was fairly uneventful. I became friends with the middle-aged Democrats working the table with me and my dad and only got yelled at by one Trump-supporting Karen. I was nervous, but decently distracted and feeling optimistic about my home state, at least.

When I finally left the polls at 3:45 p.m, things were less pleasant without the distraction of handing out flyers at the polls. As I waited for the first polls to close, I ate way too much pizza and started drinking at 5 p.m., much earlier than my intended start of 8 p.m.

I would like to say I conducted myself in a rational manner once the polls closed. However, I did not. I hopped on a Zoom call with a few of my friends as soon as the polls closed at 7 p.m so that we could keep each other company and I could talk through the numbers with them. We also played a drinking game. The rules were simple, we drank if Biden lost a state and we drank if Biden won a state. No one was sober.

While I knew that results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania weren’t going to look good for Biden initially — as those states couldn’t count mail-in ballots until Election Day — I still very much did not like seeing them pink on the map. Still, I was nauseously optimistic that Biden would win, even though I doubted it would be called that night.
As more results came in on the Senate map, though, I was just straight up nauseous. It looked as though Democrats would probably not be picking up a Senate seat in North Carolina. And we’d lost a seat in Alabama, though we did flip one in Colorado. Democrats failed to flip seats in the hotly talked about states of South Carolina, Iowa and Montana. Plus, the numbers in the Maine Senate race weren’t looking great.

Still, I tried to focus on the main goal of this election — ousting the cheeto. Democrats flipped Arizona, and The New York Times needle was leaning toward a Biden victory in 

Georgia — thank you to Stacey Abrams for that one. Biden had a strong path to 270, and I finally hopped off Zoom and fell asleep sometime near 4 a.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 4

When I woke up at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, I was excited to see that the numbers had shifted in Biden’s favor in Wisconsin and Michigan and that the gap was closing in Georgia. I refused to look at the numbers in Maine’s Senate race, because when I’d gone to bed a couple hours before, they did not look good.

I kept myself entertained as I waited for the AP to make some more calls by eating Reese’s Cups, downing coffee and watching “The West Wing.” Though, admittedly, I barely paid attention as my eyes were glued to the maps and my phone as I explained the state of the race to friends and family members, acting as their extremely low-budget Rachel Maddow.

When they called Wisconsin for Biden, I yelled so loudly that I sort of think my neighbors may have found out from me instead of Kornacki. My dad — who’d also gotten no sleep — and I celebrated by getting more coffee and gazing at the numbers in Michigan and Georgia.

When they called the Maine Senate race for Susan Collins, however, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Collins is one of my top three least favorite senators, and since Biden won three out of the four electoral votes in the state, I was very hopeful that Sara Gideon would too. I wondered if 1:30 p.m. was too early to start drinking.

When they called Michigan for Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, though, we did shots. We were at 264 electoral votes. Only six more to go. That was the exact number of electors Nevada had, a state where Biden was leading, though the state hadn’t reported results since election night.

I was hoping they’d have more results on Wednesday night, but they said we’d have to wait until Thursday for an update. Nevada results were stalled for so long that I genuinely wondered if the ballot counters had gotten themselves stuck inside the Lotus Hotel and Casino from “Percy Jackson.” It was doubtful, but hey, it’s 2020. Anything is possible.

Thursday, Nov. 5

I was an absolute zombie in my 9:25 a.m. class on Thursday. Turns out getting no sleep and surviving mostly on anxiety, coffee, chocolate and alcohol doesn’t make for a super coherent Devi. Who knew.

I was hoping they’d be able to call Nevada so I could celebrate a Biden win and then get some sleep, but it seemed like that wouldn’t be the case. So, I spent most of the day chugging Red Bull and staring at the steadily shrinking margins in Georgia and Pennsylvania so hard that I think I lost a contact lens.

While Thursday unfortunately brought no new states called for Biden, we did find out that both Georgia Senate races would be going to runoffs in January, which will serve as a potential path for Democrats to gain the Senate majority. Plus, it’s likely that Biden will be able to pick up Nevada and Pennsylvania, securing him the presidency and putting someone in the White House with decency and a good makeup artist.

Friday, Nov. 6

Wow. Biden is ahead in Georgia! Biden is ahead in Pennsylvania! If he wins Pennsylvania, it would put him above the number of electoral votes needed to win this race. Is 10 a.m too early for shots? Election Week of Horrors is almost over — sort of, we do still have the GA senate runoffs and are waiting on final calls in some states — but the worst of it is likely done.

Though things look good, I know that most of us will not relax until this race is officially called. So keep drinking that coffee, make sure you get something to eat and refresh those maps. 

Devi primarily writes about politics for The Pitt News. Write to her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter for more hot takes @DeviRuia.