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The Mechanics
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Feature Sun Nov 02 2008

The Election 2008: Live Coverage Throughout the Day

Welcome to Mechanics, the new political section on Gapers Block. Editor Ramsin Canon gives more background on what Mechanics is all about here.

The Mechanics staff and other GB contributors will be covering the 2008 General Election right here, from morning until late into tonight -- but we want to hear from you, too. If you've got a tip for us or want to share your perspective on the day, email us at, IM us at, or send us a message in Twitter. We'll also aggregate news and reportage from elsewhere in Chicago and beyond, making Mechanics your one-stop shop for election news.

06:09 Anne Holub My polling place is just steps from my house, but at 6am there, already 50 people waiting in line. 6700 n greenview, Rogers park. I'm in line. Waiting with my judge info.

06:24 Ramsin Canon I just took a dip in the boisterous sea of liberty, which in the case of my precinct meant I chatted with seniors for two minutes before voting my first ever non-straight Democratic ticket. That's right, I finally broke with the party over water reclamation.

06:31 Anne Holub Half the voters in front of me have already voted, but I've been here since 6am!

06:45 Ramsin Canon Senator Obama has voted in Hyde Park. I wonder if anybody who waited in line with him made a "palling around" joke, because I would have. Stupid BBC wire stories. But he's voted now! [0750 Ramsin Canon]

07:01 Anne Holub Took an hour, but I voted!

07:10 Ramsin Canon You Rogers Park goo goos with your passion for voting. Pshaw! Check out this BBC report about Barack's first victory today: he has won the vote in Dixville Notch, NH. Vote totals: Obama 15, McCain 6.

07:23 Ramsin Canon As of this morning, election prediction website's prediction model (which runs something like 10,000 election simulations every day based on various polls), Senator McCain has a 1.9% chance of winning today, which means if we voted 10,000 times, Senator McCain would get 270 electoral votes 190 times.

07:43 Ramsin Canon Bill Ayers voted earlier this morning at Obama's precinct. Can you imagine if they had been in line together? Awk-ward.

08:12 Kenzo Shibata We were told early in the school year that CPS personnel are prohibited from wearing campaign gear at our schools, as many are polling places. Also, as respected adults, we would unfairly influence the opinions of students. For once, the Board of Education has admitted that we are actually making an impact in students' lives! Now only if they'd only stop closing down our schools...

09:00 whet Got free coffee at swim & got to keep vote slip. My vote is worth 2 cups of coffee!

09:07 CMPR Arrived at polls in La Grange Park at 6:05 am...line of 20 voters already, which is a first for this polling place...finally voted at 6:35

09:11 Rob Warmowski White Devils for Obama.

09:18 You can keep up with local vote reports at Chicago Breaking News and this Nov4 FriendFeed room, and live nationally via Twitter at

09:24 Jill Jaracz About 25 pct voted early + 25 pct so far today.

09:32 Robyn Nisi I voted this morning at Brentano School in Logan Square (35th Ward, 8th Pct.) -- I was 3rd in line when I arrived @ 5:45 a.m. The line grew to 15 by 6am, and was snaking out of the building when I left at 6:20. Check-in was a bit shaky -- I wanted to do the touch screen method, but of course it wasn't working when they tried to get me started (I checked back on my way out; the touch screen was working again).

Here are some bleary pics.

A buddy of mine is an election judge in Uptown; other than a groggy pollworker who was told to take a lap around the building to wake herself up, it's uneventful.

09:42 Alice Maggio Voted. Took about 45-50 minutes. The Montrose/Wolcott Starbucks folks were passing out ginger latte samples to everyone in line. Nice.

09:52 The Reader's Chicagoland recommends you ignore exit polls.

10:10 Like freebies? Chicago Dining Examiner has a list of food and drink giveaways, while 312 Dining Diva picks her favorites for Election Night parties.

10:27 Peek in on the preparations for tonight's rally with Sun-Times' Grant Park Cam.

10:38 Plenty of vote reports and discussion over in Fuel, too.

11:43 Andie Thomalla I was listening to CNN's live feed of the Shoesmith School polling place this morning, waiting for Obama to cast his vote... Just a feed, no commentary. Did anyone else notice someone in the background yelling "Ayers! Ayers!" and then the sound suddenly cutting out? Conspiracy theories, anyone?

11:58 Time Out Chicago's liveblogging, too.

12:05 suttonhoo Obama at the polls

12:07 Chicagoist reports on parking restrictions and street closures related to tonight's Grant Park rally, and on an Illinois woman who reduced today's important decision to a coin flip.

12:23 Some fun for later tonight: Color your own electoral college map!

12:25 If you're headed to Grant Park tonight, here's a Facebook group to join.

12:49 Mike Doyle CPS honcho Arne Duncan is on CNN talking about Obama. Tell me he wouldn't go to Washington if Obama wins.

12:56 shannonsays my sister's been waiting for two hours to vote in indiana. i told her it's worth it.

12:56 Heidi Sullivan Pic of the crowd that's already formed by Grant Park at 12:45pm for Obama's rally. I work across the street.

13:14 There are some GOP rallies downtown tonight, too: at English, 444 N. LaSalle., and at the Hilton downtown with Tony Peraica and the Young Republicans.

13:22 Mark Smithivas wgn radio talking to guy who's first in ticketed line. he showed up @ 730 last night! | and get this... he's an internet consultant! LOL | 300 people in ticketed line now.

13:23 CDButler voted just after noon in Streeterville. No line. Only 3 voters in the place

13:31 ondraceka no line whatsoever at fullerton court apts. @ 12:15. worried i wasn't going to have time to vote; was pleasantly surprised.

13:34 Andrew Huff I was able to vote midday, so I didn't have to wait. I live in a precinct with a large immigrant population, too, so the total number of registered voters is low -- I was #141 to vote with a paper ballot at my polling place (according to the counter on the scanner), and with only one electronic voting machine the total count probably wasn't that much higher.

13:44 As you'd expect, the Capitol Fax Blog is an excellent place for ongoing coverage.

13:48 ajbaudio reports Chicago Police patrol boats are on already the Chicago River in anticipation of tonight's Obama rally.

13:52 superanne lines said to be two hours wait at 4300 winchester, now abt 20 min, only, and everyone's all chatty. (and wearing obama shwag.)

13:55 Centerstage lists even more election night events.

13:57 As we "await our moment in history," Chicago's downtown hotels are filling up. Good luck getting a room after the rally!

14:02 Apparently we can expect Oprah and maybe George Lucas at the rally tonight, but Bill Zwecker reports that many celebs have been told not to come. ''There really only needs to be one star in Grant Park, and that's Barack,'' said his unnamed source.

14:05 Kenzo Shibata So far, all of my students who are eligible to vote tell me that they voted for Obama. After they asked me how I voted, I had what we call in the business a "teachable moment" where they learned the definition of "gag order" and how the policies of municipally-managed entities can override first amendment rights.

I have one student, Cynthia, who works full time to support her family...she is earning a B average and is actively looking at colleges for next year. She got up two hours early to vote.

What's your excuse?

14:17 ColonelTribune ColonelTribune The election day photos are pouring in, but I'm not sure all of the folks pictured are registered voters. Fishy...

14:20 cheapsuits Oh Lord, I don't mind you bringing your kids to the polling place but please stop them from running around like banshees

14:24 Chicago police trade riot survival tips on Second City Cop in preparation for tonight's rally.

14:26 Kenzo Shibata "Genius Boy" Karl Rove predicts a landslide (PDF) for Obama 338-200 electoral votes.

14:33 cheapsuits 32% of my precinct has voted this far. That tracks to look like a 47% turnout here. Far cry from what I expected

14:36 David Schalliol Illinois House of Representatives Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (25th - D) distributes candy to poll workers in the 5th ward.

14:29 Chi-Town Daily News posted a video finding out who Lincoln Square residents voted for.

14:43 Heidi Sullivan The crowd on Congress for Obama rally is the same on the ticketed side as it is on the non-ticketed side and has doubled in the past hour!

14:48 Tune in tonight on TheMorningNews, where Chicago writer Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner will live blog the election results. Guaranteed to be dryly funny.

14:50 lualie Just saw Gov. Blagojevich jogging. Felt like saying, Oh, hey you! I just voted to recall your votes! Enjoy the lovely weather!

14:51 WGN-TV has their election coverage page up.

14:54 dinkyshop 4 blocks away from Chicago Obama house, cops/Feds have streets closed, cops on EVERY corner & alley. Taken abt 2pm CST

14:56 The Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell will be doing a live chat about the election at 3:15pm.

15:08 OK, throttling back a bit, to save energy for tonight. Leaving you with the Trib's guide to tonight's rally.

15:09 Dan Telfer Voted! I am producing a live performance/celebration on the north side tonight, but until 6pm I'm in the loop doing the deskjob thing. Yikes. I fear the rally.

15:16 Good luck getting out of there Dan. For you Obama supporters, his campaign just sent out an email indicating they may be nervous about their turnout so far--there have been reports of serious voting complications in Virginia. His campaign's email read:

National Call Team,

Barack needs your help right now -- our data indicates that the results will
be very close in many states. I can't emphasize enough how urgent this
message is. Please go to our website and start calling as soon as you can.

We are not going to hit our goal of 500,000 calls for today by 3pm Central, unless we get at least 2,000 more people calling for the next hour.

Can you call now and continue for as long as you can manage?

16:00 Check out Sheila Burt's live reporting from the rally at Grant Park. She'll be updating us throughout the evening and have a full story tomorrow.

16:26 First wave of exit polls are starting to get leaked, and, of course, you should take them with an enormous grain of salt, or listen to Nate Silver of 538 and ignore them completely. But if they are accurate, it looks like an epic blowout. To wit: VA +8; OH +8; NC +4; MO +5; PA +13; CO +7. Again: don't count on these numbers as anything more than a curiosity.

16:46 David Schalliol I'm inside the non-ticketed area in Grant Park. People are already in here, obviously, since they don't need a ticket there's no wait. They're showing CNN on the Jumbotron, and every once in a while they'll show Grant Park and everybody will scream.

17:05 Apparently three election judges have been removed from duties -- well, actually, two election judges and someone posing as a judge.

17:10 Kentucky and Indiana polls have closed. Here we go -- are you ready?

17:15 Cinnamon Cooper CTA conductors are encouraging people headed to Grant Park to make sure they have enough money on their CTA cards to help reduce bottlenecking on the way home. All trains will be running until at least 2am -- later if necessary.

17:27 Chi-Town Daily News reports Humboldt Park turnout was "strong and steady."

17:29 Wondering what's for dinner for Grant Park rally VIPs? Here you go.

17:30 ellembee At rally eating arugula sandwich, drinking chardonnay, watching CNN on jumbotron.

17:40 James Janega They're letting people w/ tix past the first gate, but holding them at Congress and Columbus. Still, gates may open B4 8:30

17:46 Jasmine Davila Walking to Grant Park for rally. Just saw rickshaws with HUGE Obama/Biden stickers.

17:51 According to the Boston Globe, "The stage set, in contrast to the massive Greek columns behind him at his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, is a fairly humble affair, featuring a wooden podium, a row of American flags against a navy blue backdrop, giant TV screens showing CNN, and towers of speakers ready to broadcast Obama's speech to the masses. Security, on the eve of the country having a new president, is even tighter than it has been; workers have installed panels of bullet-proof glass on either side of the podium."

17:55 The Swamp will be liveblogging tonight. As is the Columbia Chronicle.

18:30 So the Obama campaign has asked celebrities to stay away from the rally tonight--makes sense, don't want it to look like Oscar night--but one celebrity we KNOW will be there: hometown demi-goddess Oprah Winfrey.

18:51 EditorColin There are no trash cans in the grant park area. Massive litter.

19:04 NIU Northern Star Jesse Jackson Jr., is at the rally eating pizza with his family.

19:13 Andrew Huff & Ramsin Canon
Andrew: "Calling" a state with 0% votes counted is just plain ridiculous.
Ramsin: but they don't call it unless the exit polling is extreme.
Andrew: I know, but still
Ramsin: they've had the exit polls for at least an hour, or two
Andrew: it just looks dumb
Ramsin: it does
Andrew: this is how we got in trouble in 2000
Ramsin: plus it's not gratifying because you don't see the percentage spread
Ramsin: but like in SC, Obama is leading
Ramsin: but their exit polling must be widely outside the margin of error, because they called it for McCain
Andrew: exactly, it looks insane to call a state when the "loser" is leading
Ramsin: they should release the exit polling.

19:26 Obama, Japan is watching the election closely. They've suggested their namesake come for a visit if he wins.

19:55 paleobiology CNN just referenced us watching CNN referencing us. "It's full of stars!"

20:04 The Wall Street Journal talked to a bunch of Chicagoans at and around the rally.

20:05 A friend here at GB Election HQ had her three 6th grade classes do a mock vote. Results: 80-3 Obama.

20:22 WGN-TV has a "reporter's notebook" semi-blog. Fun to watch behind the scenes at the rally.

20:30 ourmaninchicago According to ABC, Oprah says she is 'vibrating'. Steadman was unavailable for comment.

20:41 CNN reports from Arizona that the McCain celebration has turned off the news.

20:46 Judging by the early calls around the networks, this is going to be an early night. Not even 9pm and it's hard to make the map work for McCain.

20:58 James Janega Informants report seeing Oprah Winfrey going into and coming out of a porta-potty near the press area at Grant Park.

20:19 If you're not in Grant Park yet, you're not getting in: police have closed the gates to the unticketed rally area.

21:25 SunTimes twitter Dana Bash on CNN says McCain and Palin in Phoenix, waiting in the Goldwater Suite of the Biltmore. Bad omen.

21:27 The Swamp talks to Bill Ayers. "I think my relationship with Obama was probably like thousands of others in Chicago. And, like millions and millions of others, I wish I knew him better."

21:36 Oprah categorically denied having a role in Obama's success on ABC. Switched to CNN just in time to see a CGI diorama of the Capitol and senate seats. Very surreal night on television.

21:52 My god, there are a lot of people in Grant Park. You guys stretch to the horizon.

21:56 The Tribune is calling Anita Alvarez for Cook County State's Attorney.

22:01 Barack Obama has just been projected as President of the United States, and Grant Park has exploded.

22:11 MSNBC reports McCain has called Obama and conceded. We may see Obama on stage soon.

22:14 Jesse Jackson on MSNBC, hiding from the camera and crying his eyes out.

22:20 McCain onstage, congratulating Obama on winning the election. Crowd booed, then fell silent.

22:22 McCain: "Let there be no reason now for any American to not cherish their citizenship."

22:26 Ramsin Canon Final soundcheck!

22:30 Phineas Jones So far this rally is just a very unpleasant way to watch CNN.

22:33 Ramsin Canon Crowd booed Palin.

22:38 A pledge of allegiance? Interesting.

10:43 Long video, followed by "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." C-Span showing a motorcade coming north on Columbus Drive.

22:47 "Only in America" now playing, still waiting for Obama to take the stage.

22:57 Obama and family take the stage.

23:04 Obama: "Sasha and Malia, I love you both, and you have both earned the new puppy that will be coming to the White House with us."

23:06 "The road ahead is hard. The climb is steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But I promise you, we will get there."

23:10 "Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the Republican Party to the White House."

23:15 You know "Yes We Can" would become a call and response.

00:09 Full audio of Obama's acceptance speech on Chicago Public Radio.

00:15 Looks like the Con-Con was defeated, according to Capitol Fax Blog.

00:19 TimeOutChicago T-shirts being sold after the rally say "I was there when change happen at Grant Park." Yay grammar!

00:30 I think we're done for the night. Thank you to everyone for following along and for the updates throughout the day! And share your thoughts on what an Obama presidency will mean for Chicago over in Fuel.

GB store

Andrew Lennie / November 4, 2008 9:55 AM

Lines woulda been shorter if they gave EACH judge the entire alphabet binder, instead of splitting it up A-K and L-Z. And thank God for paper ballots. Not enough machines. God help us if they get rid of dead tree voting.

Aviva Gibbs / November 4, 2008 10:11 AM

Wondering if Mount Prospect really had to test the emergency sirens on Election Day. Then again, voters at this polling place weren't at all concerned. Must be a 10am Tuesday kind of thing - "cry wolf" effect. Note to Mother Nature: good time to trick the suburbs and sneak a tornado through! In other news, remarkable early AM turnout has tapered off to a trickle.

Ramsin / November 4, 2008 10:22 AM

Aviva- How is it looking for Dems in the Cook County burbs? I wonder if you'll hear Blagojevich (or Stroger's) name out there?

lauren / November 4, 2008 12:13 PM

i'm sad. i got the initial "you'll get yout rally ticket info soon" email ... and never got nuthin.

Aviva Gibbs / November 4, 2008 1:08 PM

Hard to tell, but the turnout is outstanding and the Dem volunteer op is being run like a machine. Not The Machine, however... Haven't heard too much talk of Rod and Todd, though people are playing it close to the vest, except for the guy who spit at my feet when I handed him a palm card.

Shawn / November 4, 2008 2:15 PM

I want to buy an Obama T-shirt somewhere on the northside. Where can this be procured?

Gordon / November 4, 2008 2:26 PM

I voted at about 8:30 this morning, in the 32nd precinct (Loyola's Gentile center, Rogers Park). No line whatsoever!

Ramsin CanonAuthor Profile Page / November 4, 2008 2:30 PM

@Aviva: So you're in Seals-Kirk territory. I can't wait to see if there's lot of ticket-splitting there--that'd be a glimmer of hope for Illinois Republicans, I think.

GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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