It's 11 pm Central time in Houston, at the bar of the hotel where Santos is headquartered at. Lou orders a bottle of scotch with seven glasses, and says she'll keep the bottle. She brings the drink and the glasses to a table where Josh, Donna, Lester, Edie, Ronna and Otto are all sitting. They talk about how the bar looks indistinguishable from any other hotel bar in any other city. Josh tells them it'll all end tomorrow, and Lou says tonight's the night for them to get hammered (except Josh, who needs to pay for the drinks). Lou then asks the others what they have planned for the rest of their lives; Edie will settle for a meal that isn't Cheerios and a Diet Sprite, Ronna wants a pedicure, and Otto says he wants a job as a White House speechwriter, until the others point out how bad that sounds, and Donna says she'll settle for more than two hours of sleep. Josh comes back and chides Lou for spending $175 on a bottle of scotch. He then mentions Congressman Santos is coming in from L.A., and asks who wants to stay sober enough to get the report from Bram. After a brief silence, Josh picks Edie, who snorts in disgust. Lester decides to call it a night, and Josh reminds him of the staff meeting for 6 the next morning. After Lester leaves, Edie hurriedly finishes her drink, says she's going to call it a night, and she'll send an e-mail about L.A.; she then follows after Lester. Josh is surprised, which Lou and Donna both chuckle at. Otto starts to chide Lou about her drinking, and she points out he's just a kid and has no business lecturing her. She then grabs the bottle and heads back to her room; Otto, after downing his drink, follows. Josh can't believe he missed that pair as well, and as Donna smiles, Ronna says, "You might have had an easier year of it if you had come on board." Ronna also decides to call it a night, and heads over to the bar, where she greets and kisses Cindy. Josh asks Donna if she knew about any of the couples, and Donna admits she did. They look at each other for a long moment, and Josh then asks if she ever "came on board". Donna said she didn't, and sits next to Josh. He then asks if she wants another drink. She says no, and heads back to her room. After a moment, he follows.
It's 3 am in Josh's hotel room. He wakes up, looks to see if Donna is still in his bed; she is, but while he starts to reach out to her, he stops and goes back to his side of the bed. This wakes Donna up, and she goes into the bathroom. Josh immediately gets up and heads to the bathroom as well, where Donna is getting dressed. Josh asks if she got any sleep, and she says she did. Josh tells her she doesn't have to leave, and Donna brightly says she wasn't, but gets a little testy when Josh says he meant she didn't have to sneak out, as she wasn't. She was just checking the news sites. Josh says he didn't mean to make things awkward, though he realizes he is. Donna volunteers to get them coffee, and Josh asks how she's feeling. Donna says she really wants to win, which is not the answer Josh was looking for, but as she leaves, Josh covers it by saying coffee would be great.
Down in the hotel gym, Lou is on a treadmill when Edie finds her. Lou grouses that she came down to escape everybody; when Edie tells her Senator Vinick made a speech where he hammered Congressman Santos' lack of foreign policy experience, Lou points out Election Day is too late to do anything about that. Edie then reminds her the polls open in the East in two and a half hours, and as she leaves, Lou picks up the pace on the treadmill.
As Donna gets out of the elevator, holding two coffees, she runs into Otto, who's working on the speeches. She goes up to Josh's door, starts to open it, thinks better, and then knocks. To her surprise, Ronna opens it, and we see other people in the room as Josh says no one else could sleep either. Ronna brings up the speech by Senator Vinick; Donna has the same reaction Lou did, and points out she has members of President Bartlet's cabinet standing by to spin the quote their way. As Donna hands Josh his coffee, she whispers to him, "Tell me you found my pantyhose."
Bruno brings Carrie (Rebecca Marshall) into the hotel room he and the other Vinick campaign staffers have set up as their control room. He makes a joke about having to sell the couches for their last media by, and he and Carrie kiss each other. A fax comes in, and Bruno says he should get it, but Jane says she's taken care of that. Bruno jokes that she had nothing better to do at 4 am, and Jane admits she didn't. Bruno introduces the two of them, and Jane brings up Vinick's speech about Santos' inexperience in foreign affairs; Bruno admits it might have been too little, too late, but it was worth a shot. Jane tells them Vinick is going to vote in Santa Paula and then come back to the hotel. Carrie where the bathroom is, and Jane and Bruno both point it out to her. As Carrie leaves, Jane mentions how much she hates to wait.
Congressman Santos, Helen and Bram have just gotten off the plane at Houston airport. Helen tells her husband there's nothing left to do but vote and go home, and they're on schedule, none of which he can't quite believe.
Josh gets out of the elevator and is on the way to the control room when he sees Donna coming out of her room. She asks if Teddy has things up and running (he says yes), and he says she looks good (Donna mentions she changed clothes because she didn't want to wear the same clothes she had on the night before). Josh says she doesn't have to worry, but makes it sound like they have something to be ashamed of, which he quickly corrects. As Josh walks in, he asks Teddy how everything's going on - including surrogates and radio spots - and Teddy assures him it's all covered. Lou tells Josh he needs to thank the troops. Josh awkwardly stands on a chair and starts to give what sounds like a thank you speech (mentioning it's been 11 months, and he's "learned a lot"), but soon turns into him pointing out the mistakes of a staffer he already fired. He tries to switch back and tells them to take a few moments to enjoy the moment, but then tells them to call their families, get them to vote, and check to see if there's any problems. When he finishes, Lou tells him, "You might wanna work the phrase 'thank you' in there," which he does but not with any meaning. Lou then counts down the seconds until polling begins.
Lou is in her room watching TV - which is showing Senator Vinick voting - when Otto comes in, bearing breakfast. Lou tells him he needs to prepare a speech in case Santos doesn't win the Hispanic vote.
At the Vinick control center, Jane tells everyone the West Coast polls have opened, which means everyone; Bob tells her she forgot Alaska and Hawaii, and Jane "remembers" how important they are in determining who's elected President. Bruno is busy worrying about the Hispanic vote in Florida; Jane says they've got it covered. However, Bob notices the coverage of Santos voting; Jane points out he's lost the East Coast news, but Bruno points out he's cut into the coverage of Vinick...
...and Josh is on the phone with Bram, confirming that was Lou's plan and it worked. Bram tells Josh Santos changed the health care portion of his speech but is otherwise doing fine (relaxed even), and they're heading back to the house. As Bram good-naturedly complains about the traveling he's done, Josh is distracted by a weather forecast which is predicting rain in Massachusetts, tells Bram to hold on, and runs back to the control room. He starts to tell Teddy about the rain, but Teddy assures Josh he and Lou are already on it. Lou takes Josh back into the hall, and as Otto runs up to bring her the latest speech he's just written, Josh says there should be two more speeches; Lou guesses that he wants a speech if Santos wins the popular vote but loses the electoral college vote, and vice versa, and tells Otto to do so. They get into the elevator, and Josh is left walking around looking for something to do. A young staffer starts walking down the hallway; Josh stops him (his name is Drew), and Drew says he's in charge of setting up the ballroom for that night. After starting to walk back to his room, Josh runs back, asking to tag along.
In the White House, C.J. catches up to Charlie, who's carrying a stack of files that he says are job offers. After checking with him about the election (exit polls haven't started yet), C.J. tries to dismiss them, but Charlie points out January jobs are interviewing in November, and she should get on it. They get to her office, and Charlie pitches her on some of the jobs, but C.J. is in no mood to hear it, and she dismisses him with a look, though he leaves the files with her. She then walks into the Oval Office and takes a look around before heading back to her office.
In the ballroom, at 11:55 Central Time, Drew mentions how three thousand people are expected to be there; Josh corrects him by saying 30,000 will likely try to show up, but Drew assures him they've got overflow areas set up. They pause to watch Foo Fighters do a sound check (they're playing "Resolve"), and Josh snaps out of it to ask if they've voted. Just then, his phone rings; it's Donna. Josh starts to talk about what happened between them (asking if he was right to just give her space), but she tells him the exit polls are in, and he runs back up.
At the Santos residence, Santos asks where the kids are, and Helen says they're at school till three. She suggests he sleep till then; he doesn't think he can, and Helen kisses him and playfully suggests they can do something else before leading him upstairs.
In the control room, Lou gives Josh a gift - a box of blue markers - but while he appreciates it, he's more interested in the results, which he, Donna, Lou, Otto, Ronna and Teddy read. They seem to be doing well so far (Donna's a little concerned about the Massachusetts numbers, but they point out the rain is affecting them). Everyone walks away except for Donna, who notices Josh's face looks funny. Josh confesses his head feels like it's going to explode, and Donna asks if he wants to talk and walk "or something"...
...and sure enough, not long after, they're in bed in Josh's room again. After offering her tap water, which Donna declines, Josh asks if he can turn on the TV, which she agrees to. Donna mentions a polling law in Minnesota that might affect things, and Josh calls someone to check on the numbers. Just then, there's a knock on the door; it's Ronna, who's looking for Donna so she can go on TV. Edie also comes to the door with the Minnesota numbers. As Josh and Donna try to get dressed, Edie and Ronna both figure out what's going on inside, and are gone by the time Josh opens the door.
In the Vinick control room, Jane and Bob are pleased with the numbers from the South, but Jane worries Senator Vinick is only up by a little in California, and says they need to schedule more drive-by time. Bruno is worried about the Minnesota numbers Donna mentioned to Josh, but Bob and Jane both assure him things will be fine.
Back in the Santos control room, Josh worries about how much campaigning Senator Vinick has done in California, but Teddy and Ronna point out it's a little late for that, and Teddy also adds Donna and some Congressmen are helping in that area. Teddy gives everyone the new exit polls.
At the Santos residence, Bram tells Helen the latest exit polls, which he says are looking good. He wants to tell the Congressman the news, but Helen says to let him sleep, as the kids will be home soon.
In the Vinick control room, Bruno and Bob are worried about the new numbers, but on TV, Jane is putting a good spin on things as Lou and Annabeth watch disdainfully; Teddy, meanwhile, thinks the numbers look good, and they have a good vote count even without Texas. Lou's good mood is shattered when Edie mentions some of the junior staffers were talking about what kind of poster they wanted to hang up in the White House, but she stops long enough to tell Josh not to read too much into the Minnesota numbers before storming off.
In the White House, at about 5 pm Eastern, Will greets Kate enthusiastically. They tease each other about what they've been doing - his "lame" press briefing, according to her, and her roaming the halls gossiping - and she asks Will about the exit polls. Will confirms things look good for Congressman Santos so far, and Kate wonders if he's going to ask for a job in Santos' administration, but Will is actually thinking of going back to California, as he has a sentimental fondness for his time in local government. This stops Kate short, and she leaves, while Will looks at her quizzically.
In the Santos control room, Annabeth, Edie, Lou and Ronna are looking at a website that claims a Santos victory is all but assured, which naturally gets Josh upset. Lou points out no one cares about one little blog, and it won't affect voters, but Josh is beyond listening to anyone at this point:
Josh stops talking, takes a breath, and storms out of the room as everyone else looks at each other. He walks up to the roof of the hotel, looks out, and tries to calm down. Donna walks out after him, and after a minute, Josh asks what she's doing. Donna says she's been appointed to see if he's okay. She then points out he's been working 18-20 hour days for the past year, and there's really nothing to do but let it happen, to which he silently assents.
At 5:55 Central Time, Lou, Otto, Teddy and some other staffers are in the hallway as Lou thinks of more speeches they need to write, in case Congressman Santos loses Texas but still wins. Otto is not happy to hear that, especially when Josh comes down and adds they should have another speech in case the race is still too close to call. Josh then mentions the East Coast polls are about to close.
At the White House, Will is in his office watching TV when Kate comes in, and apologizes for walking away. Will wonders if she was upset about California, and as she tries to tell him that doesn't matter so much, Will says he's willing to stay if she wants. This surprises but pleases her, though she covers by saying she doesn't live and die with the Democratic Party like he does, and is more invested in helping whoever gets elected with the crisis in Kazakhstan. Will, however, realizes this means Kate voted for Senator Vinick, and is stunned to hear it.
In the Vinick control room, Bob and Jane see Bruno still obsessively looking at the numbers, and Bob says he'll talk to him. Bob tells Bruno the East Coast polls are about to close, but Bruno isn't interested, as he's still obsessing. Bob tells Bruno win or lose, he's done a remarkable job. A TV anchor says they'll be announcing the first results; Indiana and Kentucky are for Vinick...
...and in the Santos control room, Ronna is dismayed to hear this, but Donna tells her to be patient. Lou asks for a direct line to DNC headquarters to track the Congressional races, and Edie says she'll get on it. Annabeth confides to Lou and Ronna that Leo may sleep through the whole thing if she doesn't wake him up, and goes to do so. Edie reports Hispanic candidates are polling ahead in Texas, and Rhode Island is going to elect its first ever Hispanic governor, which everyone applauds. However, Ronna cuts it short by pointing out another result coming in, which is that West Virginia is being called for Senator Vinick...
...and Helen greets Santos in his bedroom as he watches the same result, but neither of them seem too worried. Santos is a little worried about what to do the next day, and Helen says they'll just take the kids to school and go out for breakfast.
C.J. is in her office eating dinner and watching the election coverage when Charlie comes in and asks if he wants to take any of the job offers home with her. C.J. wants to know why Charlie is so gung-ho about them, and Charlie says she's a smart and savvy woman and he'd like to keep working for her if that was okay. C.J. takes this in, and then says Charlie can give her some of the job offers to take home with her.
In the Santos control room, everyone applauds when Pennsylvania is called for Congressman Santos - everyone, that is, except Josh, who is worried the exit polls are misleading, and he thinks the vote is going to be very close. The TV broadcasters are saying the same thing, and we see Bob, Bruno and Jane watching in the Vinick control room.
Congressman Santos, Helen and Bram are in their limo as it rides to the hotel, and Bram tells them they've won South Carolina.
Annabeth gets a Secret Service agent to let her into Leo's room to wake him up. She calls for him cheerfully, then gets a little annoyed, and then a little worried until she goes into the bathroom. She screams for someone to call 911, and the Secret Service agents rush in and call for an ambulance.
This episode contains examples of:
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: After They Do for the second time, Donna says she's worried; Josh thinks she's talking about them, but Donna actually says she's worried about a law in Minnesota prohibiting pollsters within 100 feet.
- Continuity Nod: We hear references to the nuclear plant accident in California that happened earlier in the season, as well as the ongoing crisis in Kazakhstan.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Josh's freak-out in the control room is very similar to how he lost it in front of President Bartlet.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Josh's speech intended to thank and inspire the troops achieves neither.
- I Have to Go Iron My Dog: When she hears Will talking about California, Kate doesn't even bother with an excuse to leave, simply saying, "I have to go...there", pointing up the stairs, and walking up the stairs away from Will.
- Let Me Get This Straight...: Otto when Lou tells him about yet another speech he needs to write:Otto: Let me see if I have this. They need one if he wins or loses, one if he loses the Latino vote one if he wins the electoral vote, one if he loses the electoral vote and one if he loses his home state.
Otto: What if two of those things happen? What if he loses his home state and the Latino vote?Lou: That too.
- Not So Different: Obviously, Bruno's much calmer than Josh, but they both obsess over every detail, especially the numbers, and remain pessimistic even when no one else is.
- Also, Jane and Lou. Both are ideological hardliners (on opposite sides of the political spectrum, of course), and yet neither of them are wound too tight during the exit polls, and assure the ones who are more worried that everything is under control.
- Oblivious to Love: Josh didn't know about any of the campaign hookups that were going on at the beginning of the episode.
- Running Gag: Across this episode and the next, Otto keeps getting tasked with writing speeches to address increasingly specific possible scenarios (such as if Santos loses the Hispanic vote, he wins the popular vote but loses the electoral vote and vice versa, etc.).
- Tempting Fate: In addition to the beginning of the episode, and the blog that causes Josh to freak out, Otto reacts as if it'll be smooth sailing during the first exit polls, and Lou tells him he should exercise "cautious optimism."
- They Do: Josh and Donna, finally.
- Two-Part Episode