Settle In: A Non-Partisan Guide to Surviving Election Returns

For a subset of the population, elections present a super-sportsball-world-series-cup-bowl level of excitement. The mix of openly musing about “the nature” of something, the pride in and history of the system itself, and a science-adjacent, mathematical component is the thing of dork dreams. And we all know that there is no dork sadder than the politics dork.

Think of it this way:  If your friend told you that upon graduating college they were going to take a job as Hawkeye (since, let’s be real, it was just a job for him. He has no powers beyond what is essentially being super jacked) to make the world a better place. That is what a politics dork thinks they are doing when they say “I’m going to move to D.C. and work in government.” I should know because I did it, it broke my heart, and I’ve come out the other side.


Along the way, you pick up some valuable survival tools. Chief among them is how to process the stress and sheer data-splosion that comes with watching election returns roll in. A few tips:

  1. Breathe. Seems simple but in the data-saturated world of cable news, there’s a lot of information coming with very little context.


2. Look at what parts of what geographic areas are reporting. Generally, lower-density rural areas are able to count and report more quickly than densely-populated urban areas. Depending on what outcome you are looking for (remember, this is a non-partisan guide), that is going to impact the results you’re seeing.

3. Take a mental walk. When I worked in the field on campaigns, I’d go for a run when returns would first start rolling in. Might I suggest spending 10 minutes every so often with one of these delightful livestreams?

4. Remember that even if you don’t “win,” you will live to fight another day. It might not seem like that in the moment, especially when you’ve worked you ass off for something and know you are supporting the right thing. It’s true, though. You’ll have support systems built as you worked towards this goal and don’t be afraid to call on those systems after the fact.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do literally anything I can to take my own advice and not drink a gallon of whisky watching CNN.



Lexi Notabartolo