Photo Essay: Spending election night with Scott Walker supporters, as elation turns to dismay

Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Jennifer Dunlop, from Watertown, Wis., is seen towards the end of the Scott Walker watch party, as the crowd waited for additional information on the more than 45,000 additional ballots the city of Milwaukee announced would be counted late.

Early in the evening on Nov. 6, crowds began to trickle into the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, to watch the election results for the governor’s race roll in. They were there to support two-term governor Scott Walker, a Republican who was hoping to win a third term over Democratic opponent Tony Evers. The bar was open and beer glasses were clinked, selfies were taken in front of the Wisconsin flag, and the mood was jubilant as the crowd hoped for a win — and a speech by their candidate, thanking them for their support.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Samantha Gumm, 9, and her father, Joshua Gumm from Germantown, Wis., pose with Sen. Ron Johnson at the Scott Walker watch party at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis., on Nov. 6.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

The crowd at the Walker watch party mingles early in the evening at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Tim and Christie Hentges take a selfie early in the evening at the Scott Walker watch party at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis.

Television cameras lined the back of the room, blasting the attendees with light. Rock music blared from the PA system. The news of the evening was broadcast on a large screen in the center of the room. Occasionally TMJ4 News from Milwaukee would go live from the hotel, and, seeing themselves on screen, the crowd would break into cheers and chants of “four more years, four more years,” trying to get their enthusiasm conveyed on live TV.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Evan Barczynski, 25, watches early election results at Walker and state Sen. Leah Vukmir's watch party at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee. "I'm voting for the side I believe stands with god," Barczynski said. "I'm pro-life. It's about the babies."

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Paula Lindner, left, Erich Guenther, center, and Lynn Guenther, shout "four more years" at the Scott Walker watch party after early results showed him in the lead over Tony Evers.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Leah Vukmir — joined by her two children — concedes Tuesday after losing to Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. With 100 percent precincts reporting, Baldwin secured 55.44 percent of the vote compared to Vukmir’s 44.56 percent. "We ran a pretty hard race, and we ran a race as hard as you could run in Wisconsin, and I'm proud of the race we ran," Vukmir said.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Jacob Hucke, 12, watches election results come in at Walker and Vukmir’s election night party. Hucke was joined by his mother Theresa Hucke and his 10-year-old sister Alyssa Hucke.

The hour grew late and families with children started to leave. By midnight the crowd had significantly thinned as results flip-flopped between Walker and Evers. When Walker was in the lead, the crowd would whoop and cheer. When Evers was in the lead, boos would erupt. And then came the news that with nearly all precincts around the state reporting, more than 45,000 early and absentee ballots from the city of Milwaukee would need to be tallied late. The mood immediately shifted.

The TV news reported it would be at least another 45 minutes before results were in. People started to sit on the floor. Some clasped their hands together in prayer. Quiet settled over the room.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

From left: Joe Sari, 18, from Spencer, Wis., Corban Mayhak, 20, from Waunakee, Wis., and Angel Vazquez, 20, from Chicago, are seen at the Scott Walker watch party at the Ingleside Hotel.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Mike Chrisien, left, and his son Harry Chrisien, 13, from Waukesha, are seen at the Walker watch party.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Nick Valentino, a Marquette University student from a Chicago suburb, is seen toward the end of the Walker watch party at the hotel in Pewaukee.

The crowd’s attention picked up when the news said the Milwaukee results were close to being announced. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made a surprise visit to the stage to say that the race was not yet over and a recount would most likely be necessary. But her speech had been written before the Milwaukee ballots were tallied, and almost before she finished speaking, it seemed clear to the crowd that her information was out of date.

Not long after Kleefisch left the stage, people started quietly filing out of the room. The music was turned off. The house lights went up. For the Walker supporters, the show was over. He never showed up. Tony Evers had won the race for governor of Wisconsin.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Paula Lindner from Racine, Wis., sits on the floor around 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 7. The crowd had been waiting for final results of the governor's race since the party opened to the public at 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch speaks at the end of the evening during the Scott Walker watch party at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis., on November 7. Kleefisch’s remarks about the possibility of a recount were made based on information showing the governor with a slight lead over Tony Evers, with the announcement of the additional Milwaukee ballots occurring just as she was arriving to take the stage.

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