Election Day (I) (Episode 716)
First Aired: Sunday, 2nd April, 2006
Writer: Lauren Schmidt
Director: Mimi Leder









BEST. EPISODE. EVER.












Did You Ever ... "Come Onboard"?
Houston, hotel bar. With seven hours remaining until the polls open, Josh, Donna, Lou, Ronna, Edie, Otto and Lester share more than just a bottle of scotch.

JOSH: Okay, the Congressman is going to be wrapping up in L.A.--who wants to stay sober long enough to get the report from Bram? (the staffers studiously ignore him and continue to slowly sip their drinks) Thank you for volunteering, Edie. (everyone chuckles, except Edie)
LESTER: I think I'm going to call it a night.
DONNA: Oh, so early?
LESTER: God created few nights in life without midnight rallies, airplane seats and tracking polls. I'm going to enjoy one. (he raises his glass one more time, drains it, and gets up)
JOSH: Staff meeting 6 a.m. tomorrow. We'll go over new marching orders then.
LESTER: Good night.
ALL: Good night.
(as he begins walking towards the elevators, Edie tries (and fails) to subtly glance in his direction)
EDIE: Yeah, you know, I think that's it for me, too, so I'll send out an e-mail about L.A. Later. (without waiting for anyone to respond, she stands and practically dashes to the elevators, where Lester is still waiting for one to arrive)
JOSH: (watching them, the penny drops) Really?
DONNA: (pretending to be solemn) Apparently.
(Lou snorts)
OTTO: (to Lou) Should you really be drinking like that?
LOU: Like what. You're 23 years old, with a shocking lack of facial hair--do you really want to tell a grown woman how to drink? (he looks down, then up at her with a small smile) I didn't think so. (beat) Bedtime. (she stands, grabbing the bottle of scotch, and heads towards the elevators without so much as a good bye)
JOSH: Go ahead, you can take the bottle if you want.
OTTO: Yeah ... (he drains the rest of his glass and stands) ... me too. See you guys in the morning.
JOSH: (watching as Otto heads towards the elevators, after Lou) How did I miss that?
(Donna looks down at her drink, then up at Josh and tilts her head with a knowing expression and a tiny smirk)
RONNA: (gathering up her things) You might have had an easier year of it, if you had ... come onboard. (Josh opens his mouth as if to ask her what she means, but Ronna keeps talking) Six o'clock tomorrow morning, right?
JOSH: Yeah.
(Ronna walks over to the bar, where her girlfriend (Cindy) is waiting, and kisses her)
JOSH: (watching them in stunned disbelief) Wow ... Cindy? (Donna glances at them, then at Josh, then looks down, tellingly) Did you know that?
DONNA: About Ronna and Cindy?
JOSH: Any of them.
DONNA: Yes.
JOSH: Which one?
DONNA: (she smiles, teasing him) All of them.
JOSH: (still in shock) Wow. (Donna continues to smile, brushing imaginary lint off her skirt, then looks at Josh almost expectantly, her smile fading into something else entirely) (Josh's shock gives way to amusement) Did you ever ... "come onboard"?
DONNA: (she gives him a genuine smile, then speaks very slowly and deliberately, though still smiling) No.
JOSH: (seriously) Never had a campaign fling?
DONNA: (just as seriously) No.
(This is it. Now or never time. Donna very deliberately uncrosses her legs, stands up, walks across to the couch Josh is sitting on, sits down beside him and recrosses her legs)
JOSH: Do you want another drink?
DONNA: (softly) No.
(Donna gets up and walks towards the elevators without a backwards glance. Without taking his eyes from her, Josh drains the last of his scotch, and slams it down on the table beside him.)








I Didn't Want To Make This Awkward ... I Just Did, Right?
Josh's hotel room, Houston. Not quite an afterglow ...

(Josh lies on his side in bed, eyes open. Slowly leaning over towards the other side of the bed, he is greeted with the sight of Donna's naked back. He turns back to his own side and stares at the alarm clock, which reads 3:03 a.m. Leaning back over towards Donna a second time, he stretches, pauses and very gently touches her on the shoulder--then quickly turns back on his side again, rustling the covers as he does so. The noise and movement wake Donna, who leans over to see Josh's naked back. She sits up and the bed creaks. Glancing back at Josh again, he appears to be sleeping, so she slowly gets out of bed, picks up her skirt and heads to the bathroom, nude. The bathroom door creaks, which immediately grabs Josh's attention. Realising Donna is no longer there, Josh frantically scrambles out of bed, pulls on boxers and a t-shirt and literally runs to the bathroom. He pauses at the closed door for a moment, propping his head on his hand against the doorframe as if debating what to say and do next, then pushes it open, revealing Donna, clad in a white bra, zipping up her skirt.)





JOSH: (out of breath) It's three a.m.
DONNA: (a little surprised and sheepish) Yeah.
JOSH: Did you get any sleep?
DONNA: A little. You?
JOSH: Yeah. (Donna picks up her sweater) You don't have to leave.
DONNA: I know.
JOSH: I mean, you don't have to sneak out.
DONNA: I wasn't.
JOSH: I didn't want to make this awkward ... (he laughs self-consciously as she puts on her sweater) ... I just did, right?
DONNA: I was just ... (she gestures towards a laptop on the countertop) ... checking the news sites.
JOSH: With a sweater?
DONNA: For warmth.





(Donna pulls on a cardigan over the sweater, then turns around, her back to Josh, and starts typing. Josh walks up behind her and reaches in front of her to pick up a tube of toothpaste, sucking a little onto the tip of his tongue. Donna looks at him in the mirror and he throws the toothpaste back on to the countertop. Josh then crouches over and leans in very closely to Donna, looking at the site over her shoulder.)
DONNA: (turning around quickly) Why don't I go get us some coffee?
JOSH: (huskily, with a smile) How are you feeling?
DONNA: (matter-of-factly) I really want to win this thing.
(she walks past him into the bedroom, leaving him bemused and not quite sure what to think)
JOSH: Coffee would be great. Cream and--
DONNA: --three sugars. (she puts on her shoes) I already checked AP. Nothing new. You should take a look at Reuters.









Tell Me You Found My Pantyhose
Donna returns to Josh's room after her coffee-buying expedition, only to find it a little different than when she left ...

(The elevator dings and the doors open. Donna emerges, carrying a cup of coffee in each hand, to find Otto, pacing the hall, reading out loud from a pad of paper. She smiles, but keeps walking towards Josh's room.)
OTTO: "... thank you all for coming and joining me here in Houston on this historic evening. Tonight, I am both honoured and humbled by the certitude--" (he turns and runs up to Donna) Hey--no one actually uses the word "certitude"?
DONNA: Not really. (Otto sighs, exasperated) You couldn't sleep either?
OTTO: Final pass at the concession and victory speeches. It was either this, or a Solitaire tournament with the Advance guys. (having reached Josh's room now, Donna gives Otto a sympathetic sorry-I-can't-help-you smile) Yeah. (sighing, he turns and walks away)
(Donna stacks one coffee cup on top of the other, then with her free hand, reaches for the doorknob. She thinks twice about opening the door, though, and instead turns and glances up and down the corridor to ensure no one can see her. Satisfied she is alone, she taps her fingertips gently on the door, only to have it answered by ...)
RONNA: Hey!
(Behind Ronna, the entire Santos team has assembled in Josh's bedroom in a flurry of activity--evidently, they decided to get a jump on the 6 a.m. staff meeting.)
DONNA: (plastering a fake smile on her face) Hey!
RONNA: Welcome to the club.
JOSH: (with a touch of sarcasm) No one can sleep!
DONNA: Evidently.
RONNA: You see Reuters? Vinick suggested the Congressman couldn't handle the crisis in Kazakhstan at some event last night.
DONNA: Well, a response from the Congressman won't do much good now. But we've got Bartlet cabinet members across the country doing sattelite spin this morning--they can mention our guy's military experience.
RONNA: Okay, great.
(Amid the chaos, Donna walks over to Josh, still carrying the coffee cups)
DONNA: (quietly) Tell me you found my pantyhose.








Not That What We Did Was Shameful--Or Is Shameful ... That's Not ... What I Meant
Hotel hallway, 6:50 a.m., CST. Josh exits the elevator just as Donna exits her room.

JOSH: Hey, you look great.
DONNA: I changed.
(she walks down the hall with him)
JOSH: Yeah, I noticed.
DONNA: Thanks. Teddy's got the War Room up and running?
JOSH: Yep.
DONNA: (almost apologetically) I didn't want to be wearing the same clothes as last night. (she smiles)
JOSH: Right.
DONNA: How's our, um, "Get Out The Vote" effort looking?
JOSH: Great, I hope. You don't have to worry--a lot of people are going to be doing the Walk of Shame today. Not that what we did was shameful--or is shameful ... (having reached the War Room, Donna enters ahead of Josh, glancing at him as she does so) ... that's not ... what I meant.








I Didn't Know If You Needed Space, Or ...
Grand Ballroom, Hotel. Josh and Drew watch The Foo Fighters--sorry, Foo Fighters--rehearse amid massive preparations for what is hopefully a victory celebration.

JOSH: (answering his mobile) Josh Lyman!
DONNA: Where are you?
JOSH: I'm in the Grand Ballroom, supervising.
DONNA: (on her mobile, walking down a hotel corridor) I've been looking for you.
JOSH: Yeah ... I-I-I-I didn't know if you needed some space, or--
DONNA: Come upstairs--we just got the first round of exit polls.
JOSH: What?
DONNA: The exit polls. They're here.
(Josh sprints from the ballroom as Dave Grohl continues to sing and play guitar)








You Want To Take A Walk ... Or ... Something?
Santos-McGarry War Room. After Teddy, Ronna, Lou, Otto, Donna and Josh review and discuss the results of the exit polls, Donna finds a novel way to keep Josh's head from exploding (or maybe just the opposite, actually ...).

DONNA: North Carolina, we're up by one.
TEDDY: Uh-huh ... up by two in Georgia.
LOU: Look at Louisiana and Virginia--
JOSH: Georgia ... Georgia ... (he can't locate the data for Georgia in his copy of the report, so Donna leans in and points it out)
LOU: --all over the South, we are in it.
JOSH: Military voters are going for Santos.
TEDDY: Or the Republican value voters are staying home.
DONNA: We're, uh, only up by six in Massachusetts--isn't that a little low?
JOSH & TEDDY: It's raining.
(Teddy walks over to a table a short distance away and continues studying the report)
RONNA: Ahead by 12 points in New York, seven in New Jersey.
LOU: Dead even in Texas.
JOSH: It's still early.
RONNA: Are we really playing in the South?
OTTO: And Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware--I think we can put most of the Northeast in our pocket.
LOU: Hey--cautious optimism.
(As Lou, Ronna and Otto walk away, Donna looks over at Josh and smiles but he is too engrossed in his report to notice. Frowning a little, she tries to get his attention, but he still doesn't notice.)
DONNA: Your face is frozen in an odd way.
JOSH: (without looking up) Unattractively?
DONNA: (suggestively) Not entirely.
JOSH: (still without looking up) I think my head's going to explode.
DONNA: (leans in a little closer) Maybe we should ... take a walk or something ... Try to destress a little before the next numbers come out ... (she looks at Josh pointedly) ... You want to take a walk? ... Or ... (she passes behind him, leaning in closely) ... something?
(Josh's eyebrows nearly shoot off his forehead as he finally looks up from his report)








Do You Have Donna?
Josh's hotel room, 1:00 p.m. CST. The camera pans up to reveal discarded clothing at the foot of the bed and a naked Josh and Donna at the top. Donna's hands are laced across her chest, whilst Josh has his folded behind his head. They seem comfortable enough, even though they look up at the ceiling and not at each other.

JOSH: You want some water?
DONNA: (she looks over at him) You have a bottle over there?
JOSH: (he turns to look at her) Tap water.
DONNA: No, thanks. (she turns her head away, then turns back to him with a smile) But thank you.
(there are a few moments of silence, but it isn't an uncomfortable silence)
JOSH: Do you mind if I turn on the TV, see if there's any news?
DONNA: Please.
JOSH: (sits up and reaches for the TV remote control) At least I didn't bring my Blackberry to bed--it could be worse. (Donna smiles) Less ... romantic.
DONNA: (grins) Got it. (Josh turns on the TV and they watch the news as President Bartlet votes on screen) This may sound silly ...
JOSH: (without taking his eyes from the TV) No, what?
DONNA: I'm worried about that new law in Minnesota prohibiting media and pollsters within 100 feet of polling places.
JOSH: That's certainly less romantic.
DONNA: I was looking at some of the county data earlier--in Dakota County, Republicans have a 16 per cent edge in registered voters, but the exit polls show us leading by eight per cent. I wonder if the law is affecting the accuracy of the numbers we're getting. Or am I just being paranoid--I'm just ... being paranoid--forget it.
(Josh picks up his mobile and begins dialing a number)
TEDDY: Hello?
JOSH: (into phone) Hey ... can you pull all the numbers coming out of Minnesota? Thanks. (ends call)





(Almost immediately, there is a knock at the door. Josh freezes, looking at the door in shock, whilst Donna looks around the room in disbelief)
DONNA: Speedy ...
JOSH: (shouts) Hello?
RONNA: (from the hallway) Hello?
JOSH: Uh ... (he and Donna look at each other, smiling) ... Hang on! (he sits up)
RONNA: Do you have Donna?
JOSH: Uh ... what?





(Donna picks up Josh's boxer shorts off the floor with her toes and flings them across the bed to him)
RONNA: Do you have Donna?
JOSH: (his voice goes up an octave) Have her?
RONNA: (beginning to realise what is going on on the other side of the door) Do you know where she is?
JOSH: Um ... (puts on his shirt) ... yeah ... (still in bed, Donna bursts out laughing)
(Edie approaches Ronna in the hallway)
EDIE: Is Josh in there?
RONNA: Yeah. (to Josh) Can you tell Donna Lou needs her to do some spin on MSNBC?
EDIE: And I have Minnesota numbers for you! (in a whisper, to Ronna, as she starts putting two and two together (electoral math, indeed!)) No!
RONNA: (whispers back, grinning) Yeah!
(Edie places the report with the Minnesota numbers on the floor outside Josh's room. She and Ronna scurry down the hallway, whispering about the latest couple to "come onboard". They turn the corner out of sight just as Josh opens the door and looks around the empty hallway, puzzled.)








There's Nothing To Do But Let It Run Its Course
Santos-McGarry War Room. Josh has the nutty to end all nutties in front of the entire staff when he realises the numbers aren't adding up.

JOSH: Four years ago, Bartlet won New Mexico with only 6,000 votes. Call the networks and make sure--
LOU: (looking around the room, to the staff) Don't, don't, don't--
JOSH: (as he goes on, his voice gets louder and louder and his face gets redder and redder and he can hardly breathe) Is anybody else seeing these numbers coming out of New England? (Donna enters the room, speaking quietly on her mobile phone, but her attention immediately turns towards Josh) Turnout is down 15 per cent--in Vermont?
LOU: Josh--
JOSH: How can we be up in South Carolina, and not get people to the polls in Vermont? We got long lines in Ohio--we're sending Porta Potties to Democratic districts down there so that people don't leave, but the numbers are still low! (without taking her eyes from Josh, Donna ends her call) We're losing in Maine? A state that Bartlet won with 67 per cent of the vote? The Latino vote in Florida isn't turning out, but in Rhode Island they're coming out of the woodwork! Minnesota--
LOU: JOSH!
(Almost on the verge of tears, Josh bolts from the room. He bursts through a door and winds up outside at the back of the hotel, on a patio. He takes a few steps and a few deep breaths, still extremely keyed up. Behind him, the door opens and Donna comes out. He walks to the edge of the patio and she walks up behind him.)
JOSH: (still breathing hard) It's Texas--shouldn't it be warm?
DONNA: Not in November.
JOSH: What are you doing out here?
DONNA: I've been appointed.
JOSH: To what.
DONNA: Make sure you're okay.
JOSH: I'm fine.
DONNA: Make sure your head's not actually going to expode.
JOSH: (he sighs) These numbers aren't adding up.
DONNA: They never do. (beat) You've been working 18--20 hour days for the last year.
JOSH: Yeah.
DONNA: It's here. There's nothing to do but let it run its course. There's nothing left to do, Josh.
(he sighs again)








We Don't Have This Wrapped Up
Santos-McGarry War Room. Donna approaches Josh after the news announces Santos has won Pennsylvania.

DONNA: Hey.
JOSH: I talked to my mother today. She watches CNN, talks to all her friends and reports to me each of their predictions to me with equal weight. (Donna smiles) All the time, money and energy we spent trying to shake things up--what if the Electoral Map looks exactly like we thought it would three months ago? Florida and Ohio go to Vinick, we take New York, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
DONNA: Then it all comes down to California.
JOSH: Flyover states and the East Coast.
DONNA: It happens during every campaign, Josh--you had to make the tough choices.
JOSH: There's been something wrong with these numbers all day. Vermont--voters swear that they would vote for a Latino president, but the state is splitting 49-49 Santos and Vinick.
DONNA: We ran a Latino Democrat against a tax-cutting, moderate Republican. There's going to--
JOSH: Maine has been trending towards Santos all day, but voters are listing security and taxes as their major issues. So--what are they lying about? What they care about? Or who they're voting for? We're even playing in Louisiana--Teddy and Lou are through the roof! But look at the exit polls--the data is skewed towards women and African-Americans. The white men cast their votes after work. (again, he looks to be on the verge of tears, though much calmer this time around) What happens then? We don't have this wrapped up.




Many thanks to The West Wing Collection for the wonderful, awesome, fantastic screencaps!