NEW YORK, N.Y. — A rush of energy filled the crowd of hundreds that gathered on election night at the Manhattan club Mansion. All eyes darted toward the large CNN screen just moments before the polls closed in California with the state’s prized 55 electoral votes. Some people began counting down the seconds until anchor Wolf Blitzer declared Barack Obama the next president of the United States.
One woman began crying, and others cheered and danced as music blasted and the party really got under way.
“When Obama won Pennsylvania, this huge relief came over me, and I’ve sort of had this feeling of impending victory ever since,” said 21-year-old David Brandwein, a resident of the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn and a first-time voter. “It’s sort of surreal.” As Obama rolled up victories in state after state, the excitement intensified.
Some talked about the president-elect as the dawn of a new era, a cultural shift from the divisive politics of the past eight years. Others spoke of a new period of cooperation between Jewish and black communities, which once worked together to usher in the civil rights era.
“Jewish voters are excited about having an African-American president,” 24-year-old Alan Cordova said. “This is a new-generation crowd.”
At Times Square earlier in the evening, John McCain supporters were feeling frustrated as Obama headed toward the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
Sitting among a group of Barnard College students was Stern College sophomore Sima Horowitz, who comes from an Orthodox Jewish background and is an ardent McCain supporter. Though she was still holding out hope that McCain would win, she confessed that she was nervous.
When asked how she would respond if Obama won, she replied, “I’m going to make aliyah, God willing.”
— Lana Gersten
A Rough Night
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. — By 9:30 on election night, things were already looking glum at the Plymouth Country Club, as members of the Montgomery County Republican Party hung around the buffet table, munching cheese and roast beef and watching tensely as Fox News announced that Ohio had gone to Obama. It had also become clear that Marina Kats, the party’s congressional candidate, was going to lose.
Judy Davidson, the primary organizer of Jewish McCain outreach in the Philadelphia area, had predicted that this would be one of the primary locations where Republican Jews would gather on election night, but a reporter could locate only one, Pam Levy. Even Kats had not arrived.
Though the networks hadn’t called the election, Levy was already resigned to an Obama victory.
“People will see what they’re going to get now,” Levy said. “People will see what he is.”
She said she was particularly worried about Israel.
“I think that Israel is not going to have as strong support in the U.S. as it used to,” she told the Forward.
Davidson, for her part, said by phone that she was forgoing parties in favor of bed, after a long day of canvassing with a case of lingering pneumonia. Despite her disappointment, she sounded a philosophical note.
“For a Jewish person in any country to say, I’ve been part of the process, is amazing,” she said. “It is a privilege.”
— Anthony Weiss