Residents gather at Towson Library to watch results and share election analysis

Several dozen people turned out Tuesday evening in Towson to share the final stop on the 2012 general election.

"Election 2012: Returns After Dark," was held at the Towson Library, and featured a Johns Hopkins professor providing instant insight into day’s election results.

"It’s just fun to follow,” said Owings Mills resident Dan Wentland. “It has an impact on us for the next four years.”

Wentland, a Towson University alumnus, said he found the event on the county library system website and was enjoying the discourse between the attendees, all of whom he believes have a vested interest in the election.

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a political science professor from Hopkins is moderating,” Wentland said.

The moderator, Dr. Matthew Crenson, is a Towson resident who said during a break in the action that his goal was to provide context to the crowd.

“I try to tell them what the movements are,” he said.

After three hours of watching returns, Crenson said he didn’t believe the presidential race would be the cliffhanger many were anticipating, citing North Carolina, Florida and Virginia as states Republicans thought were in their pocket — and were still up for grabs.

Throughout the night, he lowered the volume on the projection screen, which was tuned to PBS, to offer insights into the early returns for those who gathered.

Just before 9:30 p.m., he had the audience’s undivided attention when reporting the near-deadlocked early returns for the ballot questions regarding same-sex marriage (Question 6) and a sixth casino in Maryland (Question 7).

Those referendum questions piqued the interest of Julie Kreif’s two sons, 14-year-old L.B. Martin and 12-year-old Connor Martin.

In a crowd of veteran voters, Kreif’s sons stood out. She said that as they grow older, they’ve begun to follow the campaigns more.

Moments later, Crenson interjected to express  shock at the report that Democrat Joe Donnelly had beated Tea Party candidate Richard Murdock in a hotly-contested Indiana Senate race.

Crenson said Murdock beat sitting Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary, and some believed Murdock was so far off to the right that his defeat was a possibility — but not expected.

“It shows the Tea Party movement has crested, and is now in decline,” Crenson said.

The results event, hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Baltimore County Public Library system, was the last of four in a series of election-related programs hosted to educate voters both before and after ballots were cast.

Other programs included panels on immigration, health care and the economy.

Former Towson branch manager Jennifer Haire said about 50 people attended each event, which featured plenty of civil crowd involvement and lively debate from all sides of the issues.

“They went very well,” Haire said. “It felt like it was a tremendous value for those who were here.”

Betsy Sexton, a West Towson resident and co-president of the county League of Women Voters, said the library has been a great partner in not only hosting the sessions, but also in distributing the league’s voting guides at all the county library branches.

Haire said the Friends of the Towson Library provided refreshments for the final panel.

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