"Can you explain that ’electoral college’ thing one more time?": Liveblogging from Ottawa’s election-watching party circuit

ITQ will be liveblogging her way through the Ottawa election-watching party circuit tonight, so check back around 7pm for sporadic – but hopefully entertaining – updates. (There may even be berrycam pictures if I can figure out how to post from the road. Or pub, as the case may be.)

In the meantime, you can always try your hand at the US election quiz. Feel free to brag about your score (or gripe about how obscure and/or wrong the questions were) in the comments.

6:26:52 PM
Good evening, electoral sports fans! Is everyone ready for a long, stressed out, progressively incoherent evening of staring intensely at the television? I know I am. Actually, part of me is regretting not hauling my laptop out on the town; we’ve only got results from two states trickling in, and I’m already getting confused. Obama is behind in Kentucky? All lost! End nigh! (Pause.) Oh, he wasn’t expected to win that? Never mind, then.

I’m heading to what will likely turn out to be the election-watching party of the night, but first, have stopped in a local pub for fried food in anticipation of a long night to come. I don’t know if I’ll be updating as often as I would during, say, an Ethics committee meeting, but I’ll do my best to check in every twenty or thirty minutes, just to give you a sense of how this town is responding to what will be, one way or another, a historic(tm) night. (Sorry, I promise not to use that word again tonight unless there is absolutely no other option.)

7:58:50 PM
Okay, it’s been a lot longer than half an hour since I updated, but I had important intense staring obligations — staring at the two sets of results coming in, and asking annoying questions of my companions about why it was that McCain seemed to be ahead in the tiny circle on the right side of the CNN screen. But when the Eastern Seaboard states came in – New Jersey, Massachussets, all those other old faithfuls, a cheer went up in the bar, and I felt I had to immortalize the moment. Also, I was finally able to tear myself away from the TV long enough to find my BlackBerry.

8:22:27 PM
Alright, I am now at *the* election-watching gathering at D’Arcy McGee’s, and the place is *packed* – to the point that they’re turning people away. Colleague Wells is here – mere inches away, in fact – and there are politicos as far as the eye can see. Happy politicos, I should note: I’m not sure what their daytime partisan affiliations may be, but right now, it’s safe to say the atmosphere in this room is a delicate shade of blue, although I haven’t yet made it out of the first room — there may be a McCain corner I’ve not yet seen. There is a Hockey Moms for McCain sign plastered to the window, right next to an Obamalage.

8:34:01 PM
I do like the CNN magic map – although it keeps flashing back to the last election results, which sends me into a bad flashback zone.

8:36:17 PM
Okay, do you want to know my little superstition? Which is probably not just mine, but one that is shared by others: if someone starts ahead, they’re likely to stay ahead, which is why it drives me insane when people start talking about rural votes and how certain groups vote late in the day and all that stuff. You start ahead, chances are that you stay ahead.

8:50:45 PM
And a big cheer goes up to mark the defeat of Elizabeth Dole – so sayeth CNN, that is. There’s an odd burst of silence in the otherwise cacophonous pub when the CNN “We’re actually ready to make a call” music plays.

8:53:00 PM
Is it wrong that Inhofe will, for me, forever be the guy on whose behalf Rob Anders heckled his now forgotten opponent? Because he will.

8:56:26 PM
Okay, so I’m ostensibly supposed to provide the unofficial Ottawa reaction, which really seems to be relatively — what’s the word, confudent. Especially now that a bunch more results are coming in, and there’s a sense that CNN – which has become our North Star – is on the verge of declaring the whole thing won, even though there are many yellow states still on the map. (Yellow is the colour of indecision, apparently.)

9:16:08 PM
At what point do the networks declare an election? I gather that they’re being a little more cautious this time around, but when one candidate is in double digits, and the other … not — you’d thin a decision would be made.

9:22:40 PM
Ooh! CNN is on the verge of a “major projection”! There would be much excitement, I have no doubt, if more people were listening to Wolf Blitzer.

9:31:57 PM
And Obama wins Ohio! Or so says CNN, to mandatory whooing from the crowd.

9:46:24 PM
Hey, why haven’t there been any House race results yet? We’ve seen Senate, but not House. I — don’t know why that matters, but I’m curious.

10:02:22 PM
Utah went Republican? Colour me shocked. (I believe that’s a shade of chartreuse.)

10:41:51 PM
Look! Both candidates are in the double digits! And more importantly, the CNN Hologramization now provokes more applause than CNN declaring results.

10:51:45 PM
We are deeply offended that the CNN global election-watching cam has not yet stopped in Ottawa. I mean, Sydney, Kenya —- but not Ottawa? What’s up with that?

10:57:27 PM
And — finally! Barack Obama elected president by CNN. Wow. That seemed to take so much longer than it should have, but still.

11:16:27 PM
John McCain is far classier than the crowd in front of him, which just booed in the middle of his concession.

11:18:55 PM
You know, when John McCain pledges to work with Barack Obama in every way, I actually believe him. Maybe it’s the cupcakes they’ve been feeding us all night, but this really seems to be one of the more gracious speeches I’ve heard from a non-winning candidate.

11:55:06 PM
Sorry about that, had to soak up the atmosphere. It’s speechifying time! Actually, first it’s parade the family on stage and soak up the adulation time.

One of the speakers on the stage has been knocked over.

And here we go. America (et al), prepare to be inspired!

11:59:33 PM
You know, I have this sneaking suspicion that John McCain and Barack Obama actually like and respect each other.

12:02:00 AM
The puppy line got a great reaction here, but the thanksing of the campaign manager and the team was greeted with disbelief by the crowd – here, not in Chicago. “I’ve never heard a campaign manager get that kind of applause,” says one politico, wonderingly.

12:11:14 AM
My room – the room I’m in, that is – is utterly rapt. It’s very Canadian – no clapping, no chanting, but still rapt. All eyes are on the image of the president-elect, even though half of the eyeholders probably have to pinch themselves at the idea that this is, in fact, the president-elect.

12:45:22 AM
And all of a sudden it was over – after a catwalk parade of families (is it my imagination or is Joe Biden’s partner – the Second Lady? – a member of the Five Feet If You Round Up Club?) and a sprig of inspirational music, of course. The bar starts to clear out – it’s a weeknight after all – but there are more hugs and moony smiles than on an ordinary Tuesday night. I check my email, and there is a congratulatory statement from Stephen Harper – prepares hours (days?) ago, no doubt, but still – another anecdote to history.

I’m not sure how much more there is to say – so goodnight to all, and may all our politics be this engaging.