As evening draws near and the pundits and anchors take their spots, a red-and-blue election map will take shape. Where will the bankers be?
In Washington, consensus runs that this year will be quieter than those past. No events are scheduled for the American Bankers Association or the Independent Community Bankers of America, and a smattering of lawyers and lobbyists reached by phone said they´d be at home tonight.
"I suspect that the financial services community will not be in a celebratory mood tonight for a number of reasons," said Gil Schwartz, a partner at Schwartz & Ballen LLP. "First and foremost is that they seem to have been backing the wrong horse. Second, they don´t want to run the risk of the "AIG effect." After all, the Post´s Reliable Source has folks everywhere."
In anticipation of the ABA´s upcoming conference in San Francisco, Calif., some of its farther-flung members were already looking ahead to festivities next week.
"I´ll be packing," said incoming ABA Chairman Arthur Connelly, who has to leave his Weymouth, Mass. home to visit bankers in Florida before he heads out west. "I am a political junkie," he confessed, adding that he just didn´t have the time this year to sit and watch the returns: "Life goes on!"
Incoming Vice-Chair Art Johnson said he´d be "home, channel surfing to see what the latest calls are." The outcomes of races in the House of Representatives and in the Senate are just as important to the Michigan-based banker. "It´s going to have a lot to do with how I´ll be spending my time in the next couple of years," he said. "I think we have a pretty good idea who´s going to be in charge but is there going to be some change of leadership in the various committees?"
The head of the Virginia Bankers Association, Bruce Whitehurst, said he´d be glad to see the end of the elections. "We haven´t arranged anything here, other than maybe to breathe a collective sigh of relief that the campaign season is finally over," he said. Mr. Whitehurst noted that voting this morning in Richmond took him 45 minutes. "This is my precinct where usually instead of 45 minutes, it´s four or five minutes, so it was noticeable difference."
Columbus, Ohio seems to be the hot spot this year: The head of the swing state´s banking association said he´ll be "making the rounds" at campaign receptions downtown. "We have three open seats-we´re losing our most senior Ohio congressmen on banking and financial institutions, Deborah Pryce," said Ohio Bankers League President Mike Van Buskirk.
"Sometime in the early evening everyone will filter through. You´re probably shaking hands with everybody that you will want to see."
Florida Bankers Association President Alex Sanchez said he´ll be "taking a rest from helping out around the state with campaigns," but declined to mention which candidates he´d assisted. He joked about a fictitious election party for bankers on South Beach in Miami. "It´ll start at 10pm," he said. "Everybody´ll go rollerblading."