The ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel in Syracuse was packed for the Onondaga Republican committee results party. It was decorated with red, white and blue balloons, the latest from Fox News and the polls on a projection screen. There was wall-to-wall media coverage of the hotel ballroom as people mingled with each other while wearing pins of their favored candidates. At its peak, you could feel the positive energy radiating throughout the room. By the end of the night, the Onondaga Republican headquarters became far more somber.
The Republican supporters at the hotel were following two of the closest races in the country. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was looking to win the presidency from President Barack Obama while Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle was tied in the polls in a rematch with Democratic challenger Dan Maffei. In 2010, Buerkle beat Maffei after it took weeks for a decision to be made on who won the election due to absentee ballots.
Even though this year’s Congressional race has yet to be called due to absentee ballots not yet being counted, Maffei has a very strong lead in the polls of around 14,500 votes. This makes it very unlikely that Buerkle will come back to win the election.
Onondaga Republican Committee chairperson Tom Dadey kept the crowd entertained and gave updates throughout the night. After the 2010 election, Dadey understood how close this election was going to be.
“When you think about the 435 congressional races across the country, we knew this was going to be top five, top 10, top 15,” Dadey said. “[This] is the race that everyone is watching here locally.”
Buerkle was not seen for the first few hours at the party headquarters. Around 11:15 p.m. she made her way into the room and onto the stage to speak to the crowd. At this point in the night, Maffei had been showing a decent lead over her in the polls. Buerkle wanted to let her supporters know that she knew it would be a close race and that she was grateful for everything they had done.
“I’m afraid this is going to be [somewhat] of a replay,” Buerkle said. “Thank you for what you do for our nation, our community and our Republican party.”
With the panic of defeat already alive in the room, Fox News reported that Obama had won the swing state of Ohio, which brought him over the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the victory over Romney.
With Buerkle down in the polls and Romney’s loss in his bid for presidency, people at the Doubletree hotel ballroom started to clear. By midnight, the room was near empty with only a few supporters and committee members discussing the outcome of the night. On the way out of the ballroom, many were discussing their disappointment with the outcome of the elections.