Even folks from the gambling capital of Las Vegas did not care much for the hand they were dealt yesterday in unusually ugly US mid-term elections.
All across the country, Democrats and Republicans were more divided than ever, angry at each other, angry at President Barack Obama and angry at their own parties.
After trying to choose between Senator Harry Reid, one of the most senior Democrats, or Republican challenger and Tea Party star Sharron Angle, Las Vegas resident Lori Baker gave up.
“We have this choice between an old man and a crazy lady.
I picked none of the above,” Baker, ordinarily a Republican, said in exasperation. “I wish we could start over.”
Regardless of the clear autumn skies greeting voters, the mood was dark across the nation.
The House of Representatives, plus over a third of the Senate and most governors’ mansions were up for grabs, opening the door to a potentially huge shift in the balance of power in Washington, where Democrats have ruled for two years.
And with the polls turning into a referendum on Obama’s two-year-old presidency and his handling of the stagnant economy, there was little of the festive atmosphere that marked his historic 2008 election as the first African-American president of the United States.
Among the slew of possible Democratic casualties loomed Reid, a little-loved, long-time Washington power broker and leader of the majority in the Senate.
“I want to get rid of Harry Reid. He’s bad for Nevada,” said Mike McClain, a retired construction worker.
“We have the worst unemployment, the worst home foreclosure rate, our economy sucks.
And they’re spending way too much money.”
But McClain didn’t think much either about Angle, whose embrace of the ferociously anti-government Tea Party has raised eyebrows.
“She’s going to be the lowest senator in the Senate. Nobody’s going to even notice her,” he reasoned.
Early indications pointed to strong overall turnout, after record-breaking campaign spending and last-minute barrages of robocalls and TV adverts.
But Democrats rushing to defend the Obama administration suffered at the hand of Republicans energised by the Tea Party movement, which won two crucial seats early in the race on election; one to Rand Paul in Kentucky’s Senate and the other to Marco Rubio in Florida.
In Harlem, a historically African-American, pro-Democratic neighbourhood of New York, a sense of urgency reigned as voters streamed to polling stations before heading to work.
“The reason I got up early to come here today is a lot of people figure a Republican win is a done deal and therefore they won’t bother coming to vote,” said Andrew Miles, who works in advertising.
“I want to make sure that doesn’t happen, or at least know that I played my part.”
But Liberty, Missouri resident Tricia Meyer said Republicans smelled blood.
“I think this country has been awakened, and we’ll see a bigger turnout than anybody expected,” Meyer said after voting.
Ima Rahter, who also voted at Liberty’s Hosanna Evangelical Lutheran Church, agreed: “We’ve got to get the Republicans back in there.”
Bob Couch, meanwhile, said he voted for the local Republican candidate for the US Senate because he supported “smaller government and less taxes.”
That pro-business theme echoed around the country.
“I’m unemployed for almost one year,” said Republican voter Tom Gutierrez in Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood.
“I need to find a job and I’m sure I will not get it with the Democrats.”
Others were more forgiving.
“It is too early to tell. People forgot what the situation was when Obama came to power.
What we need in our business is stability and that is what we are looking for,” said Dan Lustig, who works in real estate near Wall Street in New York.
Fellow Wall Street worker Timothy Smith echoed the general sense of unease.
“I voted Democrat in the last election and I am somehow disappointed but won’t change my vote,” he said.
“For me it was about choosing the best of two evils, and I voted Democratic because the alternative was worse.”?