COLUMBUS, Ohio -When television networks announced that Hillary Clinton had defeated Barack Obama in Ohio last night, volunteers and supporters present at the New York senator’s rally here erupted with both cheers and tears.
With their eyes glistening, members of the National Organization for Women hugged one another as red, white and blue confetti fell from the ceiling.
Marj Signer, the president of Virginia’s chapter of N.O.W., said Clinton’s victory came despite heavy opposition, as some politicians had called for Clinton to drop out of the race if she had a poor showing last night.
“This is the kind of victory that really counts,” Signer said.
The contentious race in Ohio between Clinton and Obama had many supporters biting their nails in the hours leading up to election night.
“When I was at the polls today, I felt like it could go either way,” said Kendra Quarles, a senior at Vermont Law School. “I was so relieved.”
Students from Ohio State University’s chapter of Students for Hillary, who admitted they were concerned about the incoming results of the race, expressed sheer joy after the analysts predicted Clinton would take Ohio.
“Better than perfect,” said Michael Amendola, a senior at OSU. “It’s more than we hoped for.”
Supporters entering the event were reserved and optimistic, but their energy grew with Clinton’s lead in Ohio. Chants of “Madam President” and “H.R.C” got louder with each percentage point the New York senator picked up on Obama.
And when Obama’s lead narrowed in Texas, after networks originally showed him leading Clinton there, risers covered in students supporting Clinton screamed back and forth to one another, asking “Whose house? Our house! Which house? White House!”
But the supporters’ focus quickly shifted when analysts announced that Clinton would likely take Ohio. Shortly after the announcement that she’d won the Buckeye State, supporters erupted into unrelenting screams at the sight of Clinton.
“For all the people of Ohio and across America who’s ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out, struggled, but stood right back up, and never gives up – this one is for you,” she said.
Campaign staffers watching the event from the balcony led chants and threw confetti while dancing and drinking from bottles of Miller Lite.
Younger members of the crowd – some as young as 2 – took running slides across the floor and doing dances through bits of red and blue paper that came up to their knees.
Adam Ledford, a sophomore at Miami University in Ohio, who spent the weekend campaigning for Clinton, said wins in Ohio and Texas would give his candidate the momentum she needed to win the Democratic nomination.
“People are going to see she’s serious, that’s she’s a fighter,” Ledford said.