On caucus night at Precinct 69 in Des Moines, I knew that Obama had won the moment that I had to go to the third satellite parking lot because all the spaces were taken—30 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. The scene inside the high school was pure democratic bedlam, dominated by the unprecedented pro-Obama turnout. I can still remember a middle-aged woman organizer for Hillary Clinton, knowing that the game was lost, standing on a chair and bellowing in vain, “If you want change, there’s no bigger change than putting a woman in the White House.”
Last Thursday afternoon, I watched a line of more than 700 white social workers, gay librarians, African American grandmothers, young eyebrow-pierced beauticians and under-employed cellists snake all the way through the Veterans Memorial building in Columbus, Ohio, for early voting. The length of the line conjured up O’Hare Airport after a freak snowstorm on the day before Thanksgiving. But the mood of the heavily pro-Obama line was good-natured and buoyant—radiating a sense of awe at their own numbers—that reminded me of the Iowa caucuses.
In short, the things that I remember most vividly from the campaign have little to do with the candidates and everything to do with the real stars of the show—the voters.