All’s Quiet on the Obama Front

Behind the scenes at last night's Obama rally in Nashua

NASHUA, NH - Last night, before Barack Obama made his concession-speech-that-wasn’t, before pundits talked about History Being Made (by Obama), a group of journalists gathered in the cavernous basketball-court-turned-press-room of the Nashua South High School, waiting to report that history. The scene was surprisingly sedate. The people who would instead soon be writing stories about Obama’s “surprising defeat” and New Hampshire’s “misleading polling numbers” perched, in gray-plastic folding chairs, between rows of long, wood-topped tables studded with laptop computers and cameras and voice-recorders and, as the night wore on, increasingly littered with pizza boxes, potato-chip bags, Styrofoam takeout boxes, venti Starbucks cups, and plastic water bottles. Most kept their eyes glued to their laptops. Some wore headphones.

Two projectors streamed images against the wall at the front of the room: a feed of MSNBC’s primary-night coverage on the left, and, on the right, a live feed from the Obama rally taking place in another gym next door. When MSNBC announced the “surprising”/“shocking”/“unforeseen” election returns, there was little reaction. Most ignored the TV announcements in favor of Web sites. Looking at the room from behind, you could see that the screens of many laptops displayed precinct maps of New Hampshire.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.