Do You Suffer From an Election Hangover? You’re Not Alone.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Nov. 7 2012 2:51 PM

One Nation, Hungover

Why you should embrace your election hangover.

A hungover woman getting out of bed with a headache.

Photo by Hemera Technologies.

When your alarm goes off, you’re bleary, disoriented. You feel as though something tremendously important has happened, yet everything around you looks exactly the same. What transpired last night? Your brain is overwhelmed equally by fog and a jittery sense of significance. As the pieces start coming back, you experience shreds of the previous night’s nervousness, elation, or dismay—but through a glass, darkly. Shouldn’t the view outside your window look brand new? Shouldn’t the coffee at least be working by now? 

It’s called election hangover, and we feel your pain. Voting yesterday was so empowering. In many—but not all—cases, you got your “I voted” sticker and walked around feeling like part of a beautiful creature named democracy that breathed truth and justice across the land. Maybe later you were elated or depressed, the world coming to an end or gloriously changing. And yet, when all is said, done, counted, and broadcast, the immediate consequences of the election are hard to place. The same parties control the House and Senate. The same embattled guy reports for work today in the Oval Office.

What does election hangover feel like? According to my colleagues, it’s everything from “ringing in my ears from all the horrid music on MSNBC” to “despair in the pit of my stomach, which has handily replaced my appetite.” Sometimes it’s accompanied by a literal hangover, e.g., “from two beers and three cocktails and staying up until 3:30.” More figuratively, it can look like obsessive-compulsively rehashing the minutiae of the returns last night, like a slew of speculation concerning the blood alcohol levels of various newscasters, like a meta-analysis of media analysts who analyze the guy analyzing all our polls. We can’t let it go, even if we want to. Forward? Only if that’s the direction that holds the Advil and the Gatorade.

Unsurprisingly, the hashtag #electionhangover is all over Twitter. “I’m not sure how I feel today,” tweets @RestlessRani. “Is there a poll I can look at? Data? #electionhangover.” And @BCam252 observes symptoms of the ailment in his co-workers: “I aint been to work 30 min and every other white person I see is n a bad mood…#electionhangover.” But mostly, the phrase has become a way of conveying that we are very, very tired. “Cant. Stop. Yawning. #electionhangover.” “Im definitely slumming it today. #electionhangover.” The hashtag has a rueful tone, signaling as it does that our civic duty resulted in the aftereffects of a fun night out without any of the perks.

But take pride in your election hangover! The hungover citizen is engaged and invested. Where’s the shame in getting so intoxicated by the country’s political intrigues that you can’t find your shoes the next morning? I’m embracing my fatigue, my disorientation, my aching, aching head. Could you please turn down the lights?

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.