Presidency undecided; all eyes on Ohio

As of press time, election officials in Ohio were still counting votes

Neither President George W. Bush nor Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry has been declared the winner in the 2004 presidential election.

One key state will decide who is the next president of the United States. Election officials were still counting votes in Ohio as The Minnesota Daily went to print early Wednesday morning.

“We’ve waited four years for this victory,” Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards told supporters early Wednesday morning. “We can wait one more night.”

At the Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka, Minn., state Republicans anticipated a Bush win, despite disappointment that Bush did not carry Minnesota.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Kerry and Edwards officially won Minnesota with 52 percent of the vote. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had 47 percent.

At the beginning of the night, Gov. Tim Pawlenty rallied the crowd as continuous chants of “four more years” resounded in the room every time state results were posted.

“President Bush is authentic,” Pawlenty said. “What you see is what you get.”

He said it was too bad Bush didn’t win Minnesota, but he wanted Republicans to go home with a sense of accomplishment.

Before officials declared that Kerry won Minnesota, College Republicans member Rhohini Kahnna said she was confident Bush would be re-elected, but she was nervous about which candidate would win Minnesota.

She said she thinks Minnesota went Democratic because undecided voters chose to back Kerry.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said Minnesota used to be a throw-away state for Democrats, but this year was different.

“We live in challenging times,” he said. “Our country needs strong leadership that is represented by George W. Bush.”

University junior Jeff Robison said some things need to be changed to prevent elections from being swayed, such as same-day voter registration and the vouching process.

“We need to work on things – there is room for improvement,” he said. “But the Electoral College needs to stay in place.”

A fury of approximately 500 supporters, television cameras and reporters frantically mingled at the Democratic Party’s gathering at the Hilton in Minneapolis.

Groups sat around large-screen televisions watching for returns from across the country.

Loud cheers filled the ballroom when it was announced that Kerry won the 55 electoral votes from California. Those cheers quickly turned to jeers as Bush received four votes from Idaho.

Excitement was renewed when the returns showed a win in Minnesota.

Stacie Paxton, Kerry’s Minnesota campaign spokeswoman, said it was a great victory for Minnesota.

Minnesotans responded well to Kerry’s message to create more jobs and to better the conflict in Iraq, she said.

Chris Montana, chairman of College Democrats of Minnesota, said he was “consciously optimistic” that Kerry would be the next president of the United States. But he said he had to leave it to faith that a victory would occur.

“I hate this,” he said. “All I can do is watch, hope and pray.”

Although tired and subdued, Montana said he was jumping up and down on the inside over Kerry’s win in Minnesota.

“It’s kind of hard to muster the energy (after working hard on the campaign),” he said.

Montana said he was happy about the student turnout. At Minnesota State University-Mankato, election officials ran out of ballots and had to get 800 more, he said.

Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., said he was happy to see the strong student turnout at the University.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.

On a smaller scale than the two major parties, Better Life Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s supporters gathered at Broadway Pizza to eat pizza, drink beer and watch the votes come in on a small-screen television.

Ty Moore, leader of Students for Nader in Minnesota, said he wasn’t anticipating Nader to get the same results as in 2000.

“Millions were spent to keep him off the ballot,” Moore said. “And many put pressure on progressives to vote for Kerry under an ‘anybody but Bush’ mentality.”

– Neil Munshi contributed to this article