Blog Archive

Election night

November 4th 2008, 17:00

Back at headquarters, one hour before the polls close. Most of the campaigners are out with signs and flyers, a last ditch effort to remind people to vote. The people left are making sure that the poll closers know what to do. They are making sure that people know that if they are in line by 6 pm, that they can't be turned away. The returns begin in an hour and people are trickling in to return their final canvassing packets.

I'm in the standard journalist anthropologist position, hovering near the food. There is a spectacular spicy chex mix. I'm wearing my camouflage, a bike helmet, obama, and activism tee shirt (take back the night), a sort of portable blind behind which I can watc h and write.

I just finished calling everyone on my phone who I am not sure voted and whose vote isn't a guaranteed vote for the bad guys.. (I'm not all that good at uninvolved observer really…) Somehow I'm not being targeted for any of the last minute to save the world brigades.

Back at the food, people are continuiously amazed as they walk by at the generosity of the folks who donated food.

15 minutes to go and we have mostly wound down the phone efforts.

18:00 hours, the polls closed – Several cheers. Fivethirtyeight is calling for an electorial college landslide. A returning driver is telling a story of rescuing a lost group of voters, rushing them to the polling place with scant minutes to spare.

18:30, someone mentioned that we weren't done here Indiana.

Google says that Lake County, Newton, Perry, Gibson, Spencer, Starke, Vanderburg, Jasper, Warrick, and LaPorte counties are still open. The campaign office has reopened the phone lines and now Activate is being set to connect them to uncovered voters in western Indiana. I've got volunteers mistaking me for staff again, but now I've been here long enough to know how to answer many of their questions and I can use it to help organize the effort.

The numbers for Monroe county are now coming in. Districts that were 50/50 last time are 55/45 or 60/40 now. We are gaining points even where we aren't winning here in Indiana. Places that were 75% for bush are now 35% McCain. I was going to head over to the IU returns parties, but the atmosphere here is better.

we watch the polls on someone's laptop. Cheering at every county, every precinct, each falling out exactly as predicted. I'm talking to kids who did map projects when they were in grade school back in 2000 and who woke up to find their maps wrong. Many of them are being careful to not get too attachd to the win, but I think that in this case, Obama is right. Hope is never false. (Admittedly, this is about the time that I saw that Bruce Schneier was not only calling it for Obama, but he was calling 538 and Princeton election consortium too pessimistic in their calls. This is when I decided intellectually that we won.)

Next we close down and head to Opie Taylors where the returns are on the wall and every screen. The noise is awesome, the excitement palpable. None of the hesitation I noticed in the office has made it through the doors. I walk in with the folks who closed the campaign office, and the noise is awesome the excitement palpable. I do wish the TVs had closed captioning on though.

I love these people, these children of the age of cynical and trash politics, of Regan and Rove and destroying your opponent in the elections so that you can't work with them in the aftermath. Of doing anything to win and failing that doing all that you can to sabotage the winners' efforts to govern. These kids are the future of this republic, and they are not a future of scorched earth and 50% + 1 victories. Even now, in the middle of returns, in the early stages of winning a contest that has eaten months and years of their lives, they hold no more acrimony toward their opponents than was earned by the tactics used by the republicans, and even that is muted.

Also? Lack of access to data reminds me forcefully that I want a laptop.

Iain 13 Iain gets a call, and Brown County, his own personal campaign was called for Obama. The east coast polls are all closed now and it is overwhelmingly Obama 103-34.

I can no longer hear or scream after the announcement of the early eastern states.


Sodrill conceded.

My best friend's state was called at 21:00 for Obama.

Many of these people worked the campaigns in states across the country. Now as their earlier work pays off, the screaming and clapping gains physical force. While they applaud the returns, I am busy applauding them.

These hours are why 16 DominiDomini spent 14 months being a better person than I. This is why she was calling people into the last minutes of the last polls of the state. It is why she has slept less this week than I did yesterday.

CNN is calling Pennsylvania and Illonois for Obama to a roar of "Yes we can!"

I get the diet coke I wanted at 20:50 as Indiana is entering the 779,000 to 715,000 for McCain. My voice slowly recovers.

At this hour, there are still people who confide in me or who I overhear talking about their worries that Obama might not win. I'm pretty sure that their concerns are unfounded at this late hour. My worry is that we won't dominate so hard that the republicans won't be willing to consider the tactics of thugs and sleezes for a campaign for any office in the land for the next decade.

21:20 52 seats in the senate with 13 up for grabs.

21:22 OHIO.

This confirms my earlier statement. With Ohio, we have won the election. Now the question is "is it by enough to convince both sides that the old style of campaign must end?" When New Mexico is called for Obama, the cheer is "New Mexico, New America!"


Indiana is 890k McCain, 850k Obama with neither Lake nor Monroe reporting yet.

The aura of hope that has permeated the parts of this campaign that I've seen ever since the Rally in Bloomington, but I'm beginning to feel that the edge of victory might be excluding the healing that this campaign is putting front and center. I suspect that, from the people I've met, this is more a matter of excitement and the flush of seeing things you've worked long and hard for starting to happen. I believe (and Hope) that this won't last out the week, that these people will take the campaign's core message of bringing America back together to heart, even in the face of the neocon's inevitable attacks.
*CHANT* Yes we Did!

By 22:00 is is pretty obvious that we won the election. For the moment, no one cares that we need to do more than win. Just winning is validation of the massive effort these people have put forth. Soon, the first flush will pass and we’ll remember that the goal of this campaign isn’t to win (seriously, check Obama’s speeches, he is clear that he wants to change the USA’s politics and that winning isn’t succeeding. Personally I think that if we are going to win the race, we’ll also need to sweep at least the electoral college to drive home the message that the old style of campaign, the sleaze and the muck and the wedge campaigns will no longer be accepted by the American public. We have won the election, but that isn’t all we have to do. Now we have to fix the nation’s problems, heal a rift that has grown wider and wider in the last thirty years as one side of our electorial politics has consistently sacrificed half of the nation to the god victory. We must fight sectarianism, we must help all of our people, we need to end or at least curtail the power of the American oligarchy, to split the neocons and the religious right from the decent republicans.

40% return polls puts Monroe County at 12,600 votes for McCain, 23,750 votes for Obama. The folks surrounding me are jubilant. Even if Obama wasn’t going to win the election, they have done awesome things this day.

I’ve said before that I love good people doing good work. This is what it is like to be with good people doing good work and succeeding. They are celebrating the people who helped engineer Monroe County’s election. They are celebrating eachother.

207 Plus Virginia’s 13 is 220.
220 is a win.
We need 270 points and some of you know that 220 is less than 270, you forget that California is a safe state these years. 220 plus California’s 55 is 275. The numbers are done and Virginia pushed them over the top. 2 minutes until the Polls in California Close.

The noise is deafening two minutes later as both CNN and NBC instantly call the results from CA, WA, and Oregon, confirming America’s first black president. Only time will tell if we received the points needed to denounce republican sleeze tactics, but at the least we have won this fight.

Exactly 4 minutes after the call, 4 minutes of screaming and chanting their joy at victory, they begin a chant that I can’t help but join.




Four minutes to change from a victorious political party into a victorious American people. I love these people. I haven’t sweated and bled beside them, I can’t claim any but the least signifigant portion of their victory for my own. The only way I was going to not vote for Obama on this day after the primary results was if I was dead or in a coma. This isn’t my personal victory, I don’t own it like these people do, but it is my victory. It is mine because it is Ours, the Big “O” Ours of the American People. Even if you can’t see how Obama is your president, even if you hate him to the bottom of your soul, no matter who you are, this is you victory, it is a victory of hope over cynicism, the victory of our better history over our darker past.

CNN is showing scenes around the country
and suddenly, we see a jubilant celebration in Kenya, in Japan, in England, We are on the verge of of a global American era not just of the gun and the sword but of the olive branch. We will remind the world why they loved us, what it was about the USA that they watched and hoped for, a reminder that our great experiment can create a greatness of spirit as well as a greatness of strength.

55 in the senate.
Obama is pulling ahead in the Indiana polls.

McCain’s concession speech. If you missed it, go to youtube and watch it.

He is gracious both to his opponent and to his base, he tells them why they lost and he pushes them to Obama’s message for America. There are things he says that he has to say, thanks he gives to the people who murdered his campaign, people like Palin.
Just a second.

McKensey’s eyes are tearin, joy at success, at a hard won fight… She has given of her self, worked until she couldn’t work, done great things, been successful and been thwarted by the changing needs of the campaign. This is the culmination of her struggle. This is her victory.

(Sorry about the colors, I didn’t want to use a flash in this case.)

Personally, I think that the McCain of this speech, I think that he is the John McCain who could have won this election. He is the John McCain who could have deserved the office. It is unfortunate that the McCain he has been these last four years isn’t the same man he is right now on that podium.

The speech is over and there is a great chant of “Thank you Sarah.”

Senate is 40-55 do far. The concessions for 4 votes if the cause is big enough to need an immediate override will be pocket change.

Oi, I’ve been writing with my pens instead of the pencils and water on my pages means that there are places where there will be no reading of my words. Alas.

A thought, one that I doubt would make me popular in this room. It is probably for the best that the democrats don’t have a fillabuster proof majority. Being required to compromise on occasion, in order to pass a bill, it will be good for a victorious party.

The woman who gave me my “I voted for Change” sticker earlier today is standing on a chair next to me, shaking, unable to control her excitement, unable to hold still. She is their joy made manifest
36 Gave me my I voted sticker earlier

She’s not alone.
38 Victory speech crowd

Not at all:

Hello, Chicago.
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.
A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.
Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.
I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.
And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.
And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.
To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.
To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.
It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
This is your victory.
And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.
You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.
There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
I promise you, we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.
It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America

That speech, it shows that McCain might not ever have been the man to beat Obama.
“Our stories are singular, but out destinies are shared”

Early, late, optimist or cynic, this is our hope, this is our struggle. Come, help, come be with us, come to the edge of history. I missed the first steps and I almost missed the next, but I am here for the next and the next and the next. Come with me, help me when I lapse, don’t come to hold us back but to keep us true to this hope to this promise, to this nation.
As he ends his speech, we get one final call. Obama leads by 15,000 in Indiana with about 70,000 votes out in counties that polled 50/50 or better. We know the results now, probably hours before the news calls the state.

To all of the people I met today, this week, to the people I’ve tried to capture here on this page and to all of those like you across my nation, I am honored to have met you.

Thank you.
This is the edge of history:
Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States of America.

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