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Some Guest Views on the Election

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(Danville, California)

Well, I am home again after another campaign trip. This latest one was to Los Angeles for coverage of Election Day and the day after. The thing that struck me a lot this year was how our technology has changed the political and news media landscape. The way we communicate with each other has changed forever.

I have periodically posted quotes, comments, opinions, observations and thoughts from folks on my blog, which were delivered by e-mail, IM, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, text message and cell phone.

Election Night I was covering the Obama victory rally in Los Angeles, and my sister Tierney was at Grant Park in Chicago with friends. We kept in touch by cell phone, text and email, instantaneously sharing what was going on in each respective city. She offered to be my Chicago correspondent. Anyway, here are some of her thoughts, sent out to friends and family:

”Ladies,

I was in Grant Park last night watching history unfold, and I have never felt more a part of America. Afterwards, like thousands of others, I walked up Michigan Ave with people from every walk of life, color, size and shape, age, and economic status back to their daily lives. There was a good energy and enthusiasm coupled with a sense of unity. There wasn't any rowdiness, arrogance, or violence, but rather a sense of peace. I think we all knew we had done the right thing for our country...on so many levels, and we were savoring the moment I know some very tough challenges are ahead, but I feel confident that Obama will surround himself with good leadership to help us solve them. And I believe that we can solve them over time.... Yes, we can!

"As an aside, the City of Chicago couldn't have planned this any better nor looked more fabulous than it did on an amazingly beautiful and historic Fall night. My heart was filled with civic pride:-)

T.”

Here’s another from her friend Peggy:

“Morning, everybody! I just have to send a few notes from Grant Park -- it was amazing!

"A friend of mine was having some people over to watch the returns at her place downtown, and since none of us had gotten any closer than the Obama waitlist, we thought we'd probably end up just taking a walk over to the park at some point to be with the crowd. The tickets just came through yesterday afternoon, so we were fired up to actually get into the park!

The night was beautiful, and the crowd was ready to celebrate! Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was blaring as we walked into the park, just as a street musician was blaring "Hail to the Chief" on his sax! It was tough to see much inside the park (everybody onstage was just a speck -- thank God for jumbo screens!), but it was so great to see the faces in the crowd -- kids on their parents' shoulders, people with tears streaming down their faces -- and, of course, a Nancy's Pizza man working the crowd with half-price pizzas for sale. Free enterprise, right?! God Bless America! :)

"For me, one of the highlights was just walking along Michigan Avenue with my friend Tierney on the way home. They'd completely opened it up to pedestrians as the park emptied out, and it was the most fun crowd ever! No pushing or shoving, just thousands of people walking together, spontaneously cheering a wave of "Yes We Can" every once in a while. We said it was like being in a parade! At one point, we just stopped and hopped up on one of the flower boxes in the middle of the street and looked back at the sea of people heading north on both sides of Michigan Avenue -- just crazy.

"It was surreal to walk past the Art Institute, where a guy had perched up on one of the lions and started screaming "WHO WON THE ELECTION??? TELL ME HIS NAME!" Hilarious! It was just one of those nights that makes you love your city, your country, your family and friends more than ever!

"I guess the bad news is that Tina Fey is out of a job as Sarah Palin -- but that's okay, she can just concentrate on '30 Rock' now. Right?!

"We hope you all enjoyed last night wherever you were and whatever you were doing.

Love,

Peggy”

Anyway, the things that struck me were the firsthand accounts of ordinary people walking down the street in Chicago. It’s rarely a perspective we get on TV anymore. There are too many pundits and analysts (including me) on the air dissecting every vote. Yes, that’s needed; but the voices of average folks need a forum. This is why “new media” is so popular, while traditional media is dying from the plague of indifference and irrelevance.

By the way, I’d love to hear some voices from the McCain rally, or some conservative perspectives to share on this blog.

Just write me at Mark@MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Sunday morning I’ll be on KGO Radio AM-810 in California with Brian Copeland, and nationwide at www.kgoradio.com. 9am Pacific Time.

Obama Victory Was Emotional for Many Voters

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(Los Angeles)

I have been to a lot of victory rallies in thirty years as a political reporter, but never have I seen so many people in tears when their side won. Such was the case in Los Angeles Tuesday night. Yes, people were cheering wildly when California put Obama over the top; but the number of people, particularly African-American voters, who were crying took me by surprise.

I was also surprised to see a fair number of children in the packed Century Plaza ballroom. Andre Herndon, editor of the “Wave,” in Los Angeles, was there with his two-year-old son, Marley.

“I never thought I’d see a black President in my lifetime,” Andre Herndon admitted. Herndon, who is 35, also explained his previous pessimism. “A lot of times, as an African-American, you feel like the deck is stacked against you. This is a complete shift,” he said.

Two-year-old Marley seemed tired and not quite sure what to make of his surroundings, as he wrapped his arms around his dad’s neck (photo above). But Andre said he would teach his son the lessons of this night some day. “It seems now I can tell him you can achieve anything in this country,” Herndon said. He added that he has another child on the way.

African-Americans voted in huge numbers for Obama Tuesday, 96 percent to 4 percent for McCain. But that’s no surprise. Democratic Presidential candidates usually win by that margin among black voters. The real surprise was the Hispanic vote, which went 66 percent for Obama to 34 percent for McCain. Republicans usually do much better with the Latino vote, with George W. Bush having received 45 percent of this key and growing group.

While Obama did well with minority voters, he held his own with white voters, achieving 43 percent. That’s on par with John Kerry’s 41 percent in 2004, and Al Gore’s 42 percent in 2000.

On CNN, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett rightly stated that there was too much press on potentially conflicted racial politics. “Some ‘Bradley effect!' The country’s grown up,” Bennett said. “We have just achieved an incredible milestone that the world needs to recognize.”

The “Bradley effect” is the phenomenon whereby white voters tell pollsters they are voting for a black candidate, even though they have no such intention, the idea being that they don’t want to be labeled racist by the pollsters or by anyone else. Such polling had former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, well ahead in his race for Governor of California. Yet, he lost. The racially inaccurate polling has come to be known as the “Bradley effect.”

Many feared it would happen to Obama. It did not. There wasn’t even a hint of it.

That was good news to Stephanie Wilkinson. She stood crying in the back of the Hyatt Regency ballroom. Wilkinson, who is 50, could barely speak to me. “I’m so choked up,” she said. Wilkinson believes Obama’s election will go a long way to heal racial divisions from generations ago. “I am thinking about my grandparents and ancestors. This means everything to me. He really did something. The fact that he had a black father and white mother means people had to listen to both sides,” she said.

As with many reporters, online input to my stories has become crucial this year, especially in the age of “new media.”

My old friend and coworker Marc Martinez also weighed in by writing on my “Facebook” page: "As I watched Barack's speech tonight with my three-year-old daughter asleep on my lap and my soon to be nine-year-old son watching, I couldn't help imagining my parents back in 1961 with their three little children in the living room of their house in Baldwin Park, California, with ‘Viva Kennedy’ placards and posters, and wondering if this is perhaps exactly how they felt when they knew they were witnessing a watershed event. I wish I could ask them."

I heard many similar comments throughout the yearlong campaign, from its beginnings at the Iowa Caucuses in January to the night of Obama’s nomination acceptance speech in Denver in late August.

I will keep writing daily about this election and politics overall. Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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