BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
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Election 2008 - Live

Justin Webb | 23:56 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This is what I saw and heard and wrote about on a night that America will remember forever...

0033 ET: The Obama crowd looks like modern America. This they have to face and accept in Strongsville, Ohio and Pottsville, Pennsylvania and a thousand other small towns across the nation. The question now - can Obama reach out to Pottsville? He will try. Will they reach out to him?

0011: You watch Obama making his speech - cogent and thoughtful and, to many Americans, profoundly moving. And you wonder: how long does this last? Four years like Carter? Eight years and longer like Reagan? Odd seeing Jesse Jackson in the crowd. Secretary of State? Only kidding.

2352: Looking at the McCain crowd in Arizona, you realise that the Republican party is in trouble. To base a party on white and elderly and socially conservative people is to base a party on a dwindling electoral resource. To manage to lose Hispanic people, as McCain appears to have done, is beyond careless. The Republicans will find someone to gather a new coalition together but it will not be Sarah Palin.

2311: No need for legal action in Virginia - but the celebrations of an Obama win there seem to me to speak more of a changing America than of Obama managing to triumph in an unlikely place. Virginia is a changed state - it has grown by 50% in 10 years. Those newcomers are not your granny's Virginians. Virginia looks and feels different. And as Virginia goes, so goes the nation - this is the immutable fact which wise Republicans (Pawlenty et al) grasp. Unwise Republicans think abortion and gay-bashing and gun-toting can still win them the future...

2306: On every level america will be changed by this result - its impact will be so profound that the nation will never be the same. In a sense the policy changes could be the least of it. It's the way the nation sees itself that will change. And the way outsiders see America. To think some ignorant folk think US elections are all about balloons and nonsense. To think some ignorant folk think America is not capable of change.

2240: It looks as if the Democrats will NOT get to the 60/40 Senate majority that would have allowed a sweeping of the boards. Someone at the McCain wake has told an AP reporter: "I'm very afraid that we're going to lose our freedoms, that the country will be controlled by almost a dictator."

That person will be relieved - or should be - by the Senate results. One Senator can hold up legislation - unless crushed by the 60/40 supermajority. Dictatorship might be held at bay...

2214: How satisfying for Obama that he - apparently - is going to take Iowa. Mainly white, wholly un-Kenyan, yet willing to take this guy to their hearts. Iowa is one of my favourite places - Des Moines is a wonderfully laid-back city and the state, in the January snow, glistens like a Christmas scene. He met them, they liked him, and they support him - that's the midwestern way. The race issue is interesting here as well - in states where there are few black people and no economic competition between the races, he sails home.

2143: New Mexico is projected to have been lost by McCain to Obama - frankly, none of this matters much if Pennsylvania and Ohio are gone (which appears to be the view of several organisations).

2123: Fox News are suggesting that Obama wins Ohio: to be honest, without Pennsylvania I see no hope for McCain anyway, but if Ohio goes so does the race - one of the great facts every American learns at kindergarten is that no Republican can win the White House without winning Ohio...

2055: Fascinating tales from Virginia - a Democratic lawyer tells me that litigation may follow if they lose the state: sophisticated efforts have been made to derail their victory, they claim, involving a double computer hack - into the DNC and a university - in order to try to keep the student vote down with false messages.

2022: Big, big victories projected in North Carolina and New Hampshire for the Democrats now - is this the real sign of a massive shift in American politics: a possible 60:40 majority in the Senate that would allow any legislation to pass. It matters every bit as much as the presidential result...

2010: If the Reuters projection that Pennsylvania is won by Obama is true, the night has ended relatively early. There is nowhere else McCain can hide. His entire strategy has been to balance out likely losses of Bush states like Iowa and New Mexico by stealing Pennsylvania. It has, it seems, failed.

2005: People talk about what it would mean for America if Barack Obama became president. I think the fact that his family, those two young black girls, would be the first family, would have a bigger impact.

1920: The projection in Vermont - if it is a result, and it appears to be clear that Obama is going to win there - brings home how divided America is in terms of states and regions. It is slap up against New Hampshire, with its fierce attachment to freedom - such a culturally different place from Vermont, where toeless sandals and socks are the order of the day, and one of the congressional representatives calls himself a socialist.


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