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In Nation’s Capital, Pandemonium After Obama Victory

Washington, DC — One of the things about the experience of covering election night from inside the bubble of a TV studio is that one becomes slightly paranoid that the entire event has been staged for the cameras: a cruel Truman Show kind of experiment, the illusion to be broken only once one leaves the premises and is interrupted by a passerby saying, “No, silly, Obama didn’t carry Ohio! And they’re having a recount again in Florida!”

What I actually found upon leaving the studio, however, was a spontaneous display of joy in the Nation’s Capital. Mere blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, in a buttoned-down section of America’s only remaining buttoned-downed town, horns were honking in a ticker-tape stream until three in the morning, and strangers black, white and otherwise were hooting and hollering and giving one another thumbs-ups and high-fives as they passed each other on the street.

There was no sense of anger, or rivalry, no sense that the enemy had been vanquished. There was, rather, a tremendous sense of empowerment in the notion that someone more like them was going to take up residence down the street: someone younger, someone blacker, someone poorer, someone who knew that the majesty of America exists not just in the tranquility of its small towns but also in the bustle of its cities.

I don’t know what this ultimately means for the country. But good luck finding a newspaper this morning.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.