Obama wins presidency with 364-electoral-vote tally

Reported by Sandra Siagian, Antoinette Luzano, Frances Vega, Jonathan Oyama and Reema Abboud

Compiled by Benjamin Zitney

Published: Thursday, November 6, 2008

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama became America’s 44th president Tuesday night, winning 51 percent of the popular vote and accumulating a 364-electoral-vote tally.

As newscasters declared Barack Obama had won the American presidency at 8 p.m., students watching the developing results on campus broke out in cheers, applause and screams of excitement.

“I just randomly started hugging a stranger in line when they announced he had won,” said Stephanie Villegas, a junior cultural communications major and Obama supporter. “I am so happy, I can’t believe I just witnessed an important part of American history.”

 By 6:30 p.m., all the tables in the Nugget had filled up with eager and excited students gathering at the Associated Students, Inc. presidential results-viewing party. Benches were overtaken and extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the many students wearing “I Vote” and “Obama” T-shirts.

They cheered with every announcement of a projected state win for Obama.

Students in the dorms expressed matching enthusiasm.

“I feel like this is incredible,” said Emeka Bah, senior international business major, who watched the projections in the Parkside Common dorms common room with about 20 others. “This is a huge step, not just for the U.S but for the whole world … It’s unbelievable. I’m really grateful to be an American.”

At the Los Alamitos Residence Hall, a small group of 10-15 students tuned in to CNN for the projections in the common room. As they projected a 297-electoral-vote tally for Obama, many students erupted in screams and shouts, calling family and friends to share their excitement.

“This is definitely history in the making,” said Jillian Le Duff, a liberal studies graduate student.

As defeated Republican presidential nominee McCain appeared on the news stations to deliver his concession speech from Phoenix — just 20 minutes after the news stations announced an near-certain Obama win — the crowd of students at the Nugget began to boo loudly.

 But as he continued with his speech, congratulating Obama, the students began to cheer and applaud his graceful concession.

“My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly,” McCain began his speech.

“It is natural — it’s natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. We fought — we fought as hard as we could.

“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans,” McCain said. “And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”

Some Obama supporters became emotional as they watched McCain speak. “Even though I’m for Obama, it was sad seeing [Gov. Sarah] Palin cry and McCain be so brave in the face of defeat,” said Nicole Price, a sophomore film major.

As Obama took the stage to give his victory speech from Chicago at 9 p.m., students at the Nugget gave him a standing ovation, but quickly became silent as he uttered his first words.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is our answer,” President-elect Obama began.

“This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm the fundamental truth,” he said. “That out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.”

Students echoed the last line of Obama’s speech, chanting “Yes we can.”

At the Long Beach Democratic headquarters, headquarters controller Eric Bradley spoke of large voter turnout Tuesday.

“We’ve had a huge surge of voter participation this election,” Bradley said. “[We had] reports of long lines since late this morning and that’s a great thing because more voters are going to the polls than ever before. Poll workers are having a hard time keeping up with the large numbers, especially on the Cal State Long Beach campus.”

Chris Shepard, campaign manager for Long Beach City councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal, said on-campus poll workers were trying their best to give everyone the chance to vote but felt that workers were giving students the wrong ballots.

“They’ve called and asked for more ballots,” Shepard said. “I think it’s just a matter of not having enough resources, they didn’t prepare for this.”

Shepard said students were “clearly so motivated that they were going to do what they needed to vote.”

Anthony Chetlan, a junior finance major, had to wait in line for 40 minutes to vote on campus.

“I had to stand in line,” Chetlan said, “and I was proud of it.”