Obama Owns My Hood

December 5, 2008

The final official numbers are in: Barack Obama defeated John McCain in my Northeast Portland precinct, 3,771 to 379, or 89.96 to 8.94 percent of the vote.

Across Multnomah County, the tally was 76.69 to 20.61 percent. The precinct turnout was a 88.47 percent, slightly better than the 86.16 percent countywide.

I expected a blowout victory but nothing of this magnitude. The margin made me wonder about party affiliations. Turns out that Republicans only account for 9 percent of registered voters in my precinct, compared to Democrats’ 67 percent. So McCain carried only his party in Precinct 3253. Thus Obama’s huge margin came from the 24 percent who list no party affiliation.

Numbers aside, I already miss the impromptu political discussions with neighbors on the sidewalk, sometimes through my open office window. Instead of hello, the typical greeting was “what do you think?” We all knew the topic was the election. Much news was fretted over and many emotions shared in these impromptu gatherings. The frequent talks helped us endure the ups and downs of the campaign.

Such discussions are easy when everyone supports the same candidate. What’s unfortunate but understandable was the absence of any McCain supporters. Or I should say their anonymity. They were peppered here and there across our Irvington neighborhood but chose to keep a low profile.

I look forward to the day, should it come, when the sidewalk discussions cover a broader political spectrum. But this time around, the divisions were too deep, fears about the future too intense for meaningful dialogue with the other side.

Now, given the events of the last thirty days, I wonder whether any of those 379 McCain voters are having second thoughts. Second thoughts based on the further sharp declines in the economy and Obama’s president-elect performance thus far. Setting ideologies aside, do they really believe that McCain is the one to lead the country through this tangled mess?