The Hillary Clinton campaign's party at the Stadium Bar Tuesday night didn't feel like a wake, as is often the case with losing campaigns on election night. But the bar, located just across Monroe St. from Camp Randall Stadium, didn't exactly feel like it does after a victorious Badger football game, either.
"It's disappointment," said Joe Wineke, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, when asked to assess the tone of the room which held about 75 supporters and media at the time. "If it was closer, you'd see three times this number of people in here."
Wineke didn't back a candidate in the state primary and had just come from the Barack Obama party, but he made it clear what kind of momentum the victor was picking up after beating Clinton by 17 percentage points in Wisconsin.
"If Clinton doesn't win in Ohio and Texas then, by her campaign's own admission, she's done," he said. Those two key states will hold primaries on Tuesday, March 4.
It appeared the Clinton supporters present, many of whom sported union t-shirts, felt similarly as they stole glances at the Stadium Bar's immense TVs which carried Obama's speech from Houston. After a week in which Clinton's effort was unable to match the energy and timing of the surging Obama campaign in the state, the fact that Clinton's opponent was supplying the soundtrack for her own rally was telling.
The veteran Democrats in the room, including Dane County Exec. Kathleen Falk, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, were in full spin control mode.
"The delegates are about even," said Falk. "We expected Sen. Obama to do well since he's a next-door neighbor. But Hillary did very well considering we had two weeks to run a campaign and especially in this cold."
If anyone in the room had reason to celebrate, however, it was Wineke, whose party clearly dominated the evening's news and generated the most interest over the last week of campaign events in and around Wisconsin.
"If nothing else, it looks like about a three-to-one vote for the Democrats tonight," he said, citing turnout numbers from CNN. "I truly believe excitement in this race is on the side of the Democrats."
As for rumors that a large number of Republicans would be pulling the lever for Clinton, believing she would provide the easier challenge in November?
"That might be 300 people, statewide," said Wineke. "And it's the conservative political junkies in Dane County with nothing better to do."