Obama Sweeps America

McCain calls Obama, congratulates him. Voters across America turned out in record numbers on Tuesday to choose a new president.

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Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 8:42 AM

Candidates John McCain, Barack Obama
Candidates John McCain, Barack Obama
Israel News Photo: (file)

Democratic Senator Barack Obama has made history in the United States, becoming the first black man to win the nomination to run  -- and now the first black man to win -- the title of president of the United States.

Republican candidate Senator John McCain called Obama to congratulate him at 10:00 p.m. EST, long before the final results were in, but also well after it became clear that the young senator had swept the nation. Election results coming in by midnight EST made it clear that Obama had a near 2:1 advantage over McCain in electoral votes.

By the time Alaska's returns had been registered at 1:40 a.m. EST, he had garnered 338 electoral votes, as compared to the 159 that McCain had managed to capture. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to secure victory in a presidential race.

Shortly after calling Obama, McCain gracefully acknowledged in a speech to his supporters that the race was over, standing on a stage with his wife and with a teary eyed Sarah Palin and her husband to say he had lost the election.

"We've come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation," McCain told his supporters and the rest of the country that listened to his concession address over national media. "I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us. I wish G-dspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president and I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair in our present difficulties, but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit." He also called on his supporters to get behind Obama in trying to repair the country's economy "in a dangerous world," and reminded them that "whatever our differences, we are all Americans."

Landslide Victory Appeared on the Horizon at Dawn
Already by the time the polls opened, in some cases before dawn, it appeared that Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's watchwords of "Hope" and "Change" rang true with Americans as they flocked to the polls in record numbers to cast their ballots.

His Republican rival failed to convince voters that he would be able to rejuvenate the American economy, and "change" – that magical image – the country's dismal fiscal forecast.

Almost two years of campaigning with the image of the nation welcoming either its first black president or first female vice president to the White House, together with strong liberal and conservative passions, had driven even apathetic voters to the polls.

Voters at various locations around the country reported in exclusive internet interviews with Israel National News that lines were snaking around the block, with hours-long waits in some areas where voting was especially heavy.

In Connecticut it appeared that Obama was likely to win by a landslide. One McCain supporter in New Haven observed, "As you turn into the polling site, there was a man holding an Obama sign and standing next to a life-size cardboard cutout of Obama. All the cars passing by beeped in support. It's lonely out here." She added that "in Connecticut it has been a foregone conclusion that Obama will win for months."

In southwestern Baltimore, Johnell Umberger reported that as early at 7:30 a.m., there were approximately 100 people in line at her polling station, "and yet the whole process only took about 25 minutes. Lots more voters are expected all through the day with the promise of record turnouts," she commented, describing people as "hopeful, happy and expressing relief that change was taking place, regardless of who wins." However, she added, in a mock election by elementary school children last week Obama won by a landslide, taking 78% of the votes. "Children generally carry their parents' opinions when it comes to voting," she noted.

Cantor David Julian of Memphis, Tennessee, said that it felt like standing in line for a ride at DisneyLand, "with the lines snaking back and forth." He and his wife stood in line for two hours to cast their votes, he said.

In Florida, John Errett, author of "The Owl and The Hawk", said that television news reported some populous voting locations with waits as long as six or seven hours, "mostly young whites and blacks. Race is extremely significant." Errett added that 90% of the black population had voted for Obama, and polls were predicting an Obama win by six percentage points. "Best man for me is McCain," he said, "due to his hard line on terrorism and general experience." 

In Little Rock, Arkansas, even early voters had to wait, surprisingly. "We went to early voting last week – in our county it has been available for two weeks at four polling places," said one voter who requested anonymity. "Even so we waited in line for two hours. People were initially surprised and annoyed, but settled in," he said. "Everyone thought it was important enough to stick it out… the mood was upbeat."

Contrasting to this was the Christian Zionist vote, characterized by Deborah K.,  a resident of Colorado who voted by mail – as did thousands of others this year, particularly the "over 50" crowd. "McCain is a faithful, experienced man who is not afraid to confront issues that are important for the country's welfare," she said. "Many Christians have been fasting and praying in repentance for days and some weeks about this election… there seems in the last couple of days that McCain is gaining more support and that many independents are choosing McCain over Obama," she added hopefully. "I pray the Jewish vote will not lean towards the Democrats as usual. They are going to be so sorry when they see what happens to our country if Obama gets in… he is a very dangerous man… May G-d have mercy on this nation. Our pastor said that if Obama does win the election, in four years we will not recognize this nation… meaning in a negative way."

In the racially mixed neighborhood of Crown Heights, in Brooklyn, New York it was an Obama event.

"It took an hour and it felt absolutely wonderful to be part of this historical process. I felt an energy that I have not seen at elections in years," remarked black historian Khadijah Matin. "It brought me back to the 60's when so many of us rejoiced in being able to vote and did not take it for granted. We saw whole families coming together, neighbors helping the elderly and handicapped, it was orderly and no one complained about the lines. Children who woke their parents early insisting that they had to vote along with them [at least to witness]; it was a renewed republic! And who did we vote for? Obama…. This election was… about renewing America and on a global scale changing our relationships with the global community." Matin added that she believes that Obama's message is "greater than race" and that "there is a sense of G-d present in his self-identity, something I don't feel from everyone."

Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE), whose office is located in the neighborhood, said the local voting station "looked like some kind of celebration.

"I feel that this euphoria is similar to the presidential elections in 2000, when elderly Jews went to vote for the Gore/Lieberman ticket to vote a Jew into the White House for the first time in history," he said. "You could hear a powerful joy their voices now that 'the time has come.' However it works out, I pray that it will be good for our country and that those who are disappointed will be able to reconcile their feelings and work towards the good of the greatest nation on earth."

A Chassidic woman who lives in the neighborhood also said she sensed "change" in the air. "Many first-time voters, I suspect – people saying they had signed up at their church," said Basya Woonteiler. "I was one of maybe three non-African-Americans voting at that time. I would guess that everyone there was voting for Obama, except for the Jews I saw. The voting went quickly and orderly, though people looked at their watches since they had to get to work. A good day for all!"

Rabbi Hecht's brother, Rabbi Shimon Hecht, reported that in his own very liberal neighborhood of nearby Park Slope, populated by upscale artists and well-to-do professionals, "lines were totally unprecedented."

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, in the predominantly white neighborhood of Marine Park, Shlomit Weingarten commented that "polls were calm but with a level of relief that the day is here and campaigning is over was definitely my feeling." She added bluntly, "I am so sick and tired of all the ads!"

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Dr. William Hyatt Gordon expressed the opinion that the race had become a "Palin versus Obama" campaign. He added that although he had gotten to the polls at 5:30 a.m. in order to get out early, there were already 30 people by 6:00 a.m. Reports at other polling places in the city described "very long lines," he said, but "people are happy, feeling the air of change."



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