Although the wait was an hour or more, it was my impression (walking past the line, not standing in it) that it was a very cheerful line. People were talking pleasantly to one another, and I think not just to friends they had come with. When someone at the courthouse door recommended that voters enter through the county administration building across the street, because the end of the line was at the far end of the tunnel between the two buildings, people didn’t groan, but scampered across the street saying they were happy someone had told them.
The people standing in line at noontime looked like working people: overalls, hospital scrubs. A couple of women with small kids. Many, maybe mostly, African-Americans.
People in the jury pool said they had already voted, and were glad they had.
I overheard many people talking about being anxious about the results. Wishing the election was over already. But even they sounded optimistic.
The only people I saw campaigning outside (across the street, keeping their legal distance from the polling place) were anti-Prop 8 (i.e., pro-gay marriage), and passers-by were greeting them pleasantly, even cheerfully. A few cars driving by tooted — they sounded supportive, not critical.
The whole atmosphere was excited; optimistic. Even party-like. I assume that most of the people I was seeing were Obama supporters, since he’s predicted to win, and will certainly carry California, and is no doubt very popular in Oakland. But even apart from that, I can’t remember an election where people acted so emotional, so excited, and so positive. A lot of people around here were angry and hostile four years ago, expecting Bush to win. And eight years ago, people were anxious. Everyone knew it would be close.
I think people do expect Obama to win, and do have a lot of hope that this will mean a turn for the better, in a lot of areas. And by “people,” I don’t mean the press, or Berkeley educated liberals, but the cross-section at the courthouse today.