US expats ride a wave of highs and lows
DEMOCRATS roared, Republicans retreated, luminaries mingled and locals drank as Melbourne watched Barack Obama win a second term as US President.
Cardboard cutouts of both presidential candidates and a body scanner met guests at the US consulate and American Chamber of Commerce party at Bobby McGee's on Exhibition Street.
In attendance were former Kansas senator Donald Betts, US consul-general Mary Warlick, commentator Waleed Aly, and state vice-president of the Australian American Association, Jon Paul Gauthier.
The latter pinned a Romney badge to his suit jacket, and described himself as a hardcore Republican. He swiped at his iPad for Fox News updates, saying the CNN coverage was "pretty left-wing".
At the Railway Hotel in South Melbourne, the pretty left-wing mood at the Democrats Abroad party went from tense to elated to relieved.
Initially the beers were sipped rather than skolled as people sat transfixed by televisions in every corner. But slowly their confidence grew.
When Elizabeth Warren won her Massachusetts Senate bid people cheered and yelled "Clinton-Warren 2016!"
When Romney looked to be overhauling Obama in the crucial state of Florida, expat Lucy Harvest, 64, kept her cool, insisting over burgers and chicken wings that the southern state was unique. "Who knows what goes on down there?" she said.
Katie Mack, 31, an astronomy researcher at Melbourne University originally from Los Angeles spent the afternoon following updates on Twitter. But when Obama finally triumphed she was more relieved than excited.
"I have high hopes that Obama will be able to get done the things that he couldn't do in the first term because he does not have to get re-elected," she said. "Like do something about climate change, that would be nice."
Eric Williams from the South Bronx has spent the past four years in Australia as correspondent for a US radio station and has the Akubra to prove it. He said if Romney had won he would not have gone back to America.
"I don't want the rest of the world to view us as a bunch of rowdy, hot dog-eating, beer-swilling warmongers," the 59-year-old said.
Two married gay couples on holiday from Dallas wore matching Obama 2012 T-shirts and said they were happy the first president to support same-sex marriage had been re-elected.
Todd Edmunson, 52, said he was once a Republican and hoped the election would serve as a wake-up call to his former party on issues such as same-sex marriage.
"Sometimes you think 'should that be the most important policy to us?' But it is hard not to be. Are your rights valid or not?"