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Nov 5, 2008 8:54 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

An outpouring of support for Obama

Nov 5, 2008 8:54 AM

East End residents who gathered Tuesday night to watch the returns in the presidential race sounded an exuberant note as early returns indicated that Senator Barack Obama would handily win the election.

For lifelong Southampton Village resident Michelle Stevens, who was watching the returns with about 20 fellow parishioners at the Community Baptist Church in Southampton, the win was a long time in coming. She whooped ecstatically as CNN called the race shortly after 11 p.m., then said that she was so happy that she could do cartwheels.

“I always dreamed of seeing this,” said Ms. Stevens, who is African-American. “But I never thought ... I never thought. I dream deep and I believe hard and trust in God.

“It’s so huge for the country as a whole and for the world,” she continued. “It’s monumental for our race. Not that it will make a major difference in my life tomorrow, but it shows us what we can do if we believe in ourselves. I wish my father was here to see this.”

She breathed deep and turned her eyes toward the television, watching the crowd gathered in Grant Park in Chicago to hear President-Elect Obama speak. “Look at that diversity. That is indicative of what this election is about,” she said.

Ms. Stevens’s granddaughter, Madison Johnson, 7, who seemed more interested in playing with the calculators of the older kids who were doing their homework around her than the election results, curled up on her grandmother’s lap and beamed. “I’m really happy,” she said.

Solomon Narcisse, 17, who was doing his math homework and keeping one eye on the returns, seemed to be the only nonplussed person in the room.

“I can see why Obama is winning,” he said. “Change is really popular now. I know a lot of people who wear the shirts, but they don’t know what his policies are. I’m completely against that.

“I have fear that once he wins, where’s he going to go from there? If he messes up, it’s going to be 50 times worse for him,” he said.

Solomon’s father, Vladimir Narcisse, had a completely different tone.

“It’s a good idea to have some hope. If he wins, it will have an impact on people of color around the world,” he said. “It’s important that different things are presented to them, different images of America. It’s really a remarkable thing.”

Arlena Barrington-Morgan was celebrating as well, unable to keep her eyes off the television as the race was called. “We’re on the move,” she said, shaking her head in amazement.

At Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, where the results on CNN were being played on a movie screen, the crowd was equally elated as returns began to trickle in. As each new return showed Mr. Obama with a lead in another swing state, cheers and whoops of joy arose from the crowd.

Alitza Piatchkova, who is originally from Czechoslovakia but has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years, said Tuesday was the first time she had ever voted.

“I was pretty skeptical. I was never involved in politics. I was coming from the communist system, and I was trying to turn my back on all that,” she said. “If you’re voting, you really have to believe in that person and what you’re voting for.”

This year, she decided that Mr. Obama was the first American politician in whom she could put that much faith.

John Monteleone, a web designer from Sag Harbor, was also ecstatic as the early returns were announced. “I don’t want him to just win, I want him to sweep it globally,” he said.

Jane Alterman, one of an almost nonexistent minority of Senator John McCain supporters at the theater on election night, said she and her husband were vacationing in Montauk from Nassau County. The couple had stopped by Bay Street to take in the scene. Ms. Alterman said she was amazed at the overwhelming support for Mr. Obama, whom she labeled “too radical” to run the country.

She also lamented Sen. McCain’s choice of running mate as the numbers began to show that Mr. Obama would be victorious. “Palin was a mistake,” she said.

Ms. Alterman explained that she was fearful of Mr. Obama’s ties to Bill Ayers and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, adding that black voters supported the Democratic candidate only “because he’s black” and not because of his policies. “McCain is a true war hero,” Ms. Alterman said, explaining that she hopes his opponent does not “sell out Israel.”

At about 9:45 p.m., 13-year-old Pierson High School freshman Bowen Dermott celebrated what appeared to be a victory for Mr. Obama.

“I don’t want four more years of George Bush. I don’t want four more years of the Iraq War,” Bowen said, proudly displaying his Obama T-shirt. The young man said he believes Mr. Obama will be beneficial to the U.S. economy. “Plus, he’s way cooler [than McCain],” Bowen added.

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Last night marked a day of unbelievable historic significance for the USA and the world. The election of Barak Obama is nothing less than a revolution of hope. The election of Barak Obama signals the beginning of the end of an ideology of hate and fear. Young people see America as a country of diversity. They are not blindsided by the biases of older Americans and they have been heard. Many will try to diminish Obama's victory by saying he benefited from a weak economy and an unpopular president, ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Nov 5, 08 10:19 AM
I am deeply saddened by the election that took place last night. I saw people who were interviewed who voted only for Mr. Obama because he is African-American, some could not even name one of his polices. I want to emphasize that this is not true for a large majority of Mr. Obama's supporters. There were many who spoke of how they felt his polices would benefit their lives. Those are the persons who were voting for the candidate they believed in.
To see folks vote for a candidate only because ...more
By The Truth (15), Westhampton on Nov 5, 08 5:56 PM
The Truth, You say that you are saddened that some voted for Barak Obama because of the color of his skin. I am saddened that many more did NOT vote for Barak Obama because of the color of his skin. I am so thrilled to be a witness to this revolution of hope.
By hamptonjoe (2), southampton on Nov 5, 08 8:00 PM
Policy...Im wondering how many McCain supporters can name one of his policies. The truth is most americans dont' vote on policy. Does anyone remember the swift boat debacle? Did you read the article?A woman was concerned about Obama's connection to Bill Ayers and his radical beliefs, and how Isreal will be treated. Hmmm she was sold on Republican Rhetoric, I did not read anything about McCains policies We vote on feelings, fear, ignorance, mistrust. What I saw is that many people looked past ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Nov 6, 08 11:04 AM
I saw a statistic in the NY Times that stated that of all of Obama's votes 61% were from whites, 23% from blacks, 11% hispanic, and 5% all others. I assume this is determined from exit poliing. Regardless he would not have won without substantial spport from whites.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 6, 08 2:40 PM
I sure as heck hope Obama can live up to all that he promises to be and all that his supporters proclaim him to be. Otherwise America is in for a titanic dissapointment.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 12, 08 1:04 PM
I think we've already lived through eight years of titanic disappointment.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Nov 14, 08 9:38 AM
Not exactly. Because our expectations of Bush were not so high. He may have made many people unhappy or even angry but alot of people were already waiting for him to mess up and then when he did that added fuel to the fire.
However people (especially african americans) are ALREADY putting Obama on a pedestal and he hasnt even done anything yet! I feel sorry for him because the only place he has to go is down. I didnt vote for him but I hope he earns my support in 2012. I really do.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 14, 08 9:52 AM