The Democratic National Committee's election night party at the Washington Hilton will not be open to the public as reported in Friday's Style section.
November 6th is coming, and with it the parties. As any political junkie who has ever made the mistake of saying, "I'll just watch the returns by myself" knows, election night beats out even New Year's Eve as a time not to spend quietly at home.
The reasons are simple.
If your team wins, crowds are necessary for the proper degree of frenzied celebration. And if you're by yourself, there's no one to listen as you insist you knew it all along and they couldn't have done it without you.
If your team loses (unimaginable as that may be) you certainly don't want to be slouched on your living room sofa, empty bowl of popcorn in your dejected lap, when the victor's jubilant face gleams from the television set. Political misery not only loves company, it demands it.
So, around town and around the country, they're stocking up on balloons and party hats, installing wide-screen TVs, collating tally sheets, hanging huge national maps and reminding band leaders that "Happy Days Are Here Again" is always popular.
The national candidates, who will have voted in their home states that morning, will huddle with the inevitable "friends and advisers" until the presidential race is finally over. Then, they're all off for their respective "victory" parties.
In Washington, the Republican and Democratic national committees are overrunning hotels with big parties and small parties, celebrations and receptions and lots of television sets. But don't expect the guests to be engaging in the kind of chatter that usually bounces off the walls at political gatherings. As one party organizer said, "People just care about being near the television."
At Mondale-Ferraro headquarters, the switchboard operators answer the phones with a breathlessly cheery "Mondale-Ferraro-we're-going-to-win" (in New York it's extended: "Mondale-Ferraro-we're-going-to-win-can-you-hold?"). Not surprisingly, the big Democratic party at the Capital Hilton is being called an Election Night Watch Victory Party.
"We have a band, popcorn, balloons," said DNC spokeman Gene Russell, "and this is an Election Night Watch Victory Party, so we're anticipating a mood of an election night watch victory party."
The Democrats expect at least 2,000 people to show up at the party, which is open to the public. There will also be private Democratic receptions in the Hilton and the Sheraton-Carlton. Given by the DNC, the Democratic Senate and Congressional Campaign committees and the D.C. Democratic Party, the public party will feature a singing group wearing Uncle Sam costumes, a Dixieland band and the ubiquitous party hats, popcorn and peanuts (the feeling around town seems to be that no one can be depressed with popcorn and peanuts in hand and party hat on head).
Eighteen DNC staffers will be monitoring races across the country and, Russell added, "You'll also want to get this in. There'll also be a display about the new DNC building on Capitol Hill where the DNC, the Senate Campaign and the Congressional Campaign committees will be moving in December."
That's probably to keep people occupied during the TV commercials.
The people who say they'll be celebrating victory at the Capital Hilton include DNC chairman Charles Manatt, Rep. Tony Coelho (Calif.) and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (Tex.). In addition, House Speaker Tip O'Neill (Mass.), Senate Minority Leader Robert Byrd (W. Va.) and other big Democrats are expected to drop by.
The Republicans are commandeering the Shoreham Hotel and expecting a crowd of 8,000. The Republican National Committee and Reagan-Bush '84 had to give out tickets because of the interest in the party, according to organizers. Republican-related groups have booked more than 35 suites in the hotel for private parties, including one for foreign dignitaries and several for big Republican contributors.
The throng of guests can listen to the Lionel Hampton orchestra or the other bands scattered around the hotel. They can grab a snack in the garage that will be carpeted and turned into a cafe. They can watch the returns on one of the 60 television sets deployed throughout the building or chat with Sen. Paul Laxalt (Nev.), RNC Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf and Pennsylvania Gov. Richard Thornburgh. They can check out a 20-by-30 foot map of the United States, which will be color-coded to show which states Reagan and Mondale have taken (the Republicans are blue, the Democrats red.)
Reagan himself will be in Los Angeles and George Bush in Houston. Mondale will be in St. Paul and Geraldine Ferraro in New York City.
Dropping by, as in "we'll make sure to drop by," will be a favorite activity in Washington Tuesday night.
Pamela Harriman, founder of the political action committee Democrats for the '80s, will be at her house greeting the big Democrats as they make their rounds. She'll provide tally sheets so everyone can keep track of things.
The National Conservative Political Action Committee will have an intimate gathering of fewer than 100 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel with former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Anne Burford.
But the big NCPAC event is out in Oklahoma City, where NCPAC director Terry Dolan and Nelson Bunker Hunt will host a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser. Bob Hope and Vic Damone will provide entertainment for the 600 guests, who will include Phyllis Diller, Lou Ferrigno and Fred MacMurray. Also appearing: a baby elephant, the University of Oklahoma marching band, a fireworks or laser light show and a 20-foot-tall Uncle Sam ("I do not know what that means," said a NCPAC spokesman. "I didn't ask").
Direct mail maven and conservative czar Richard Viguerie will host a party, as he has every election year since 1966, this time at his offices in Falls Church.
"More times than not, lately, it's been pretty happy," he said. "I don't know if we can reach the heights we did in 1980. I saw people have a drink that night I never saw have a drink in their lives."
But Viguerie was optimistic that the atmosphere will be pretty good, what with the party hats, what an assistant called "flag-waving decorations," and the fact that, as Viguerie said, "the reelection of the president is a foregone conclusion." Guests include Organization of American States Ambassador J. William Middendorf, assistant to the president for public liaison Faith Whittlesey and writer Arnaud de Borchgrave.
Those who prefer to go bipartisan can choose between the ambassadorial crowd at the Madison Hotel and the glitter crowd at Pisces in Georgetown.
Marshall Coyne, who owns the Madison Hotel, and lawyer and former USIA director Leonard Marks are playing host to 300 people at the Madison, including the ambassadors from Spain, Austria, Nepal, Japan, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Cyprus, Guatemala, Syria, Romania, Morocco and a whole lot of other places. Rounding out the list will be former White House communications director David Gergen and White House social secretary Gahl Hodges and her fiance' assistant secretary of state Richard Burt.
At Pisces, New York investment adviser Richard Weisman and his father Frederick Weisman, president of Mid-Atlantic Toyota, have gotten positive RSVPs from more than 250 people, including Cheryl Tiegs, Cornelia Guest, Richard Gere, John McEnroe, assorted grandchildren of Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter's son Jeff, Ursula Meese, wife of White House counselor Edwin Meese, and Carolyn Deaver, wife of White House deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver. Andy Warhol, who designed and signed the invitations, will also be there.
"I'm very pleased," said Richard Weisman. "It's really pretty equal from a Democratic and Republican standpoint. It's because we can vote -- it's the freedom, the celebrating of it. The idea of the party, for me, especially coming from New York, is to be in Washington where it is. The idea is not just to be on one side or another, but to be involved."
To be involved -- the party-goer's raison d'e tre.
And those who prefer to go beyond bipartisan will be heading straight for the Soviet Embassy, where Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin will be holding a reception in celebration of the 67th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, proving once again that timing, in Washington, is all.