Voters Reflect On Presidential Election

Democrat Barack Obama will become America's first black president. Republican John McCain delivered a gracious concession speech in his home state of Arizona. Voters from across the country reflect on the race for the White House.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Amanda Jones voted at the end of a campaign that took two years. And this morning we'll look back at the last 24 hours, the end of a very long race.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

It began with voters lining up at the polls, more than 130 million across the country. Bob Timms(ph) was in Atlanta.

Mr. BOB TIMMS: Thank God the weather was good. The line was very long. We got here about quarter of ten. And we just got out of voting, and it's now 1:10. So...

MONTAGNE: There was rain in some places. We spoke with a poll worker in Nevada who woke up to snow on the ground.

INSKEEP: Another poll worker in Ohio told us she'd seen lots of new voters. Shaneeka Banks(ph) was one of them. She voted for the first time in Columbus.

Ms. SHANEEKA BANKS: I just turned 18 today, so I got to vote on my birthday. I voted for Barack. It's like - I was excited because it's like - this is like - this is going down in history, and I got the chance to participate.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: According to some exit polls, a large majority of first-time voters under 30 years old voted for Barack Obama.

MONTAGNE: Emily Levin(ph) also voted for the first time in Ohio, and she bucked that trend.

Ms. EMILY LEVIN: I voted for McCain, just because my generation, most of us are voting for Obama, but I just think that Obama doesn't have enough leadership experience. And with the whole not putting his hand over his heart while the national anthem's playing and just - I don't know, I just think McCain has more experience.

MONTAGNE: Voting generally went smoothly. Pennsylvania had one of the worst problems. Bad machines in some Philadelphia area precincts forced officials to use emergency paper ballots.

INSKEEP: In Atlanta, Geraldine Devine(ph) said she was planning on a long night of watching election returns.

Ms. GERALDINE DEVINE: And I'm going home and getting in front of the TV. And I'm not moving for the rest of the day. I'll be there till three, four o'clock in the morning.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman: Whenever it's decided.

Ms. DEVINE: That's right. Whenever I hear, say, OK, it's over for whoever.

INSKEEP: Didn't take quite that long. The night ended much earlier than previous elections. Around 11 o'clock Eastern time last night, Senator John McCain took the stage in Phoenix to talk with his supporters.

(Soundbite of John McCain's concession speech, Phoenix, Arizona)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator MCCAIN: My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey.

MONTAGNE: That journey won the support of Janet Branson(ph) in Columbia, Missouri. Her state's vote in the presidential election is still too close to call, but she says the country's decision did not surprise her.

Ms. JANET BRANSON: I just think the country was looking for a change. And I just think the way the economy was, a lot of it was laid on the Republican doorstep. And people just wanted something different.

INSKEEP: In the end, more than 100,000 people gathered in a Chicago park along Lake Michigan to cheer on Barack Obama. The president-elect took the stage around midnight to speak for the first time as president-elect.

(Soundbite of Democratic election night celebration, Grant Park, Chicago)

President-elect BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

MONTAGNE: The end of this presidential campaign.

INSKEEP: Although, of course, it is in many ways a beginning. And NPR will be updating what's next for Barack Obama and his presidency throughout this day. It's Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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