Politics & Society

Obama Takes the Night ... Here and Abroad

Yesterday was a big day, here in the U.S. and around the world. Here's a snapshot of how it all began, and how TMM witnessed a celebration of history.

Heading to the Polls

It's hard to believe that less than 24 hours ago, folks across the nation were still heading casting their ballots at the polls. Earlier in the day, we did hear reports of people waiting for hours in line, but we're not hearing anything to suggest that it deterred likely voters from participating. In fact, yesterday the country saw a record voter turnout (although voter participation in the Atlanta area reportedly dipped from 2004).

TMM Producers Jennifer Longmire, Argin Hutchins and our intrepid intern Leila Taha headed to Baltimore to scope out the scene there.

Here's Jennifer with her observation:

What struck me, after my own experience, was how people were determined to vote. I saw people in wheelchairs, walkers. I saw people helping others to the polls, doing car pools...all sure that they would get there, and that they would help others do it too. They all said the same thing upon exiting — 'it's my right, and change is upon us... we take this seriously, and we want to be heard.' Parents brought their kids... and even the kids had their own opinions, and were not shy in telling us about them! Everyone is involved, in some way, and that was wonderful to see.

Baltimore resident Donell Draper, 23, said one of his main concerns is health care. He said ready to see some things done differently.

  Donnell Draper

hide caption Donnell Draper

Jennifer Longmire, NPR

A Slow but Bustling Start

Meanwhile — even as the polls were still open here in Washington, DC — producer Douglas Hopper and I headed to one of DC's social hot spots Busboys and Poets. We knew the place would fill up fast, and that it did! We snagged one of the last tables and settled in for a long night.

Its no secret the crowd at Busboys was all about Obama. And you could sense that camaraderie in the crowd. Douglas went off to capture some images from the night and mingle with the crowd.

What's up, Douglas?

Thanks, Lee. I've been up and around, talking with people in the crowd. You don't have to go far to understand what this night means. Marcus Hedgepeth, 27, one of the servers here at Busboys (by day, he attends the Art Institute of Washington), said he's been inspired by the campaign. Not just as a voter but as an artist. It's his second presidential election.

  Marcus Hedgepeth

hide caption Marcus Hedgepeth

Douglas Hopper, NPR

But there aren't just young students in the crowd. Brenda Finkel, 55, also came out to witness the historic moment. I asked her if she'd ever been so excited about an election. She said the 1972 presidential race — McGovern v Nixon — was hot, but this is a different story altogether. Yesterday, she took her 19-year-old son with her to vote. Fighting back tears, she reflected on her own first time voting, and how much has changed. It's safe to say Brenda might not have thought it possible that an African American would have been on the ticket back when she was 19. ...

  Brenda Finkel

hide caption Brenda Finkel

Douglas Hopper, NPR

How did Obama get where to he is in this race? Brenda said its because he made himself an "everyman." Marcus told me it's because people want a sense of community. He doesn't think people saw that desire in Sen. John McCain.

A very enthusiastic crowd here at Busboys. But only one man has the stage. No cheers for McCain here.

A Cautious Crowd

Thanks, Douglas. We also heard throughout the night from fellow TMM producers Jasmine Garsd and Rob Sachs. They spent the evening with GOP supporters in northern Virginia.

As election results poured in, the crowd there wasn't so enthusiastic.

Jasmine, what was the scene?

Hi, Lee. Although billed as a "victory party," the crowd in Dulles, Va., seems more concerned than anything. The majority of the audience is looking silently at the screen as election results come in, some chit chat amongst friends and family members, but its a mostly hesitant mood at this GOP gathering. The apprehension is cut only by a round of applause and cheering when the screen shows leading numbers for McCain in West Virginia.

John Yu, of Silver Spring, Md., showed up to show his support for the Arizona senator. He said he voted for McCain because he believes he has good character.

  John Yu

hide caption John Yu

Jasmine Garsd, NPR

Another person I met was Alexander Nathan, originally from India. He was on the scene volunteering at a polling booth earlier in the day ... but he's not a citizen. Even though he can't vote, Alexander says he's passionate about the McCain ticket.

  Alexander Nathan

hide caption Alexander Nathan

Jasmine Garsd, NPR

State-By-State Suspense

Thanks, Jasmine.

Back at Busboys the energy was building fast throughout the night. Interestingly, Pennsylvania was one of the first states to be called for Obama. Sen. John McCain spent a lot of time and resources there. No doubt, he was counting on voters there to swing his way. So, Obama supporters gleefully accepted the Pennsylvania win, heavily influenced by a strong showing in Philadelphia.

  D.C. voters react to projections that Sen. Barack Obama had won Pennsylvania.

hide caption D.C. voters react to projections that Sen. Barack Obama had won Pennsylvania.

Douglas Hopper, NPR

As the night went on and the electoral count seemed to increasingly favor an Obama presidency. Well, as that number went up, crowds began to amass outside where Douglas and I were posted.

Obama Surges to Apparent Victory

Then, a moment that will be forever be etched my mind. As I reported yesterday evening here on the blog, the crowd was filled with emotion as CNN announced it was projecting that Sen. Barack Obama would now become "President-elect Barack Obama," and emerge as winner in the presidential race. A wave of emotion captured everyone in its path.

It was just the beginning of what would become a massive celebration. The night was still young, and for hours to come, people here in D.C., and across the world, moved their celebrations to the streets.

  Obama supporters spilled into the streets of Washington, D.C., when they learned that Sen. Barack

hide caption Obama supporters spilled into the streets of Washington, D.C., when they learned that Sen. Barack Obama was approaching victory in the presidential elections.

Douglas Hopper, NPR
  As the clock ticked well past midnight, the number of folks taking to the streets of D.C. to celeb

hide caption As the clock ticked well past midnight, the number of folks taking to the streets of D.C. to celebrate — or merely spectate — did anything but dwindle.

Lee Hill, NPR

... And later in Paris:

  Obama supporters in the Champs-Elysees, in Paris, joined in celebrations.

hide caption Obama supporters in the Champs-Elysees, in Paris, joined in celebrations.

BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

In India ...

  Indian Siddi Tribals hold posters, along with Indian National Flags, in support of Barack Obama's

hide caption Indian Siddi Tribals hold posters, along with Indian National Flags, in support of Barack Obama's victory as they gather in front of Hazarat Mubarak Nobi (Baba Gaur) Dargah in Ahmedabad.

SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images

Don't forget to tell us how you spent election night ... and how you feel about the outcome.

And, as the celebrations eventually fade — although they still seem to be going strong — we're also following the latest news on Bush-Obama transition talks. We hear the President-elect is close to announcing who will serve as his Chief of Staff, a position that's reportedly been offered to Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois.

More as we know it ...

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