On One Hand

November 5, 2008

A Kennedy-asssasination moment in reverse

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 6:12 pm

I knew we won when they called Ohio.

My coworker was driving us from our get-out-the-vote canvass site in Montbello (an African-American neighborhood on the edge of Denver) to the hotel in downtown Denver where all the progressive groups were having their after parties. We were full of nerves from a hard and stressful day – breaking into fits of obnoxious nervous laughter between angry glares and bickering – and we were annoyed they weren’t calling Virginia yet. I couldn’t get any conclusive data about exit polls there so it wasn’t looking encouraging. We had been using a laptop in the Obama office to look at early results, and only the typical blue or red states were showing so far. North Carolina was close.

In the car we heard they called Pennsylvania and New Hampshire for Obama – a friend sent me text messages of state results before NPR announced them – meaning that results were close to matching previous polls, which showed Obama scoring a big win. But it wasn’t enough, because exit polls showed Florida tied, and Virginia slightly better than tied but you can’t know for certain how well exit polls are matching results until the day after the election when everything is already known.

My coworker thought she’d heard on the radio that North Carolina was called for McCain (we later found out it was actually North Dakota) which would have meant that we were losing at least some of the states that were thought to be highly competitive.

We figured out that North Carolina was actually still too close to call. Then I got a text message from a friend in New York saying that Fox and CNN called Ohio for Obama.

I texted back and asked “SERIOUSLY?” because I knew the election would be over if we won Ohio. Ten seconds later NPR interrupted the interview to announce the breaking news that Ohio is being called for Obama.

I told my coworker we just won the election. She screamed. It was genuine. I had to bite my lip and coudln’t say anything for a while. I was shaking. We drove by a crowd of people on a street corner holding Obama-Biden signs and we shouted to them that we just won Ohio. They cheered but they didn’t seem to know the impact of what Ohio meant, at least not initially.

A lot of people I saw that night didn’t beleive we won until the polls closed on the West Coast and CNN announced that Obama won the presidency. But I knew. A belhop at the door of the Sheraton asked if I was having a good night, I said yes, he asked if it was going to get better and I said “definitely” and teared up.

We went in to the SEIU party and watched the rest of the election results on a big screen TV. Most of the people there were saying “I’ll beleive it when I see it” when I said we won, and it was too noisy to hear what was being said on TV so we didn’t all catch the sorrowful town of Republicans being interviewed.

Since the networks had already (finally) called Virginia, along with New Mexico and Iowa – and Obama was less than 70 electoral votes away from victory – it was clear that as soon as the race was called in California, Washington and Oregon, Obama would be past 270 and declared the winner. We only had to wait for the polls there to close. I had seen exit polls from Colorado and knew that Obama was going to win here too. Then CNN posted a ticker counting down the seconds until the polls closed in a number of crucial states at once – including California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii – which would certainly all go blue and end it there.

When there were 4 seconds left before 10pm Mountain time, a “BREAKING NEWS” announcement popped up on CNN’s screen, declaring that Barack Obama won the election. I looked behind me and everyone was cheering or crying.

I’m never gonna forget that moment.

To people who love their country, and also love justice, the moment meant that the two were finally reconciled after 8 years of the opposite and months of hard work and tension. It’s hard to imagine a feeling greater than knowing that.



  1. It was a great moment. I won’t forget it either!

    Comment by jennafern — November 6, 2008 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  2. Winning Ohio felt incredible. Especially since my county (Franklin) was a lonely blue county in a sea of red … and I was nervous as hell about the state.

    Comment by usp121sgn — November 6, 2008 @ 10:13 am | Reply

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