From all accounts, it seems that this election night in Washington is going to be a big party night—especially for the Democrats. "Everybody I talked to has been really interested in going out," says Elizabeth Mullins, an area vice president for the Ritz-Carlton. "People just want an excuse to blow off some steam." In years past, Mullins tells Whispers that most Washingtonians hunkered down at home to watch the results. This makes sense since so many members of Congress are in their home districts for election night. But this year, in part because of the historic nature of the race, there's a lot going on at area hotels, bars, and restaurants and they all have an assortment of election-themed specials. For example, at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., each time a state is called for a candidate, either its "red" cocktails like the Elegant Elephant or its "blue" drinks including the Delicate Donkey go half-price at the Lobby Bar. And the party will attract both hotel guests and locals.
Then there are the more official political gatherings. While the big show for Barack Obama supporters will take place at Grant Park in the candidate's hometown of Chicago, the Democratic National Committee has booked the ballroom of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel (yes, the Mayflower Hotel of recent Eliot Spitzer fame) for its Election Night shindig. The Democratic National Congressional Committee and the Democratic National Senatorial Committee will hold a joint bash closer to the Capitol at the Hyatt Regency Washington.
Progressive groups have events planned too. The Human Rights Campaign has rented out the entire Capitol City Brewing Company, a microbrewery on Capitol Hill, so that GLBT activists and friends can watch the results pour in. "This is potentially one of the most exciting elections in our lifetime, and I think people are really, really motivated, so we are expecting a huge crowd," says Margot Rosen, HRC's director of membership and community events.
And journos not covering the conclusion of this long race to the White House can dip into the National Press Club, where the results will be playing on HDTV at the "Reliable Source" bar and where cardboard cutouts of the candidates will be on display for picture taking.
So then what about the Republicans? Well, the Republican National Committee is planning a party at the Capital Hilton in Washington. But its congressional arms, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, will not be holding any official parties. Instead, NRSC Chairman Sen. John Ensign will be around to chat about the Senate races with reporters and the NRCC will hold a conference call sometime during the night. When we asked why House Republicans wouldn't be out partying, we were told that they would be spending Election Night working.