The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Cautious optimism turns to jubilation during Va. Dems' party when Obama wins

Newport News resident Lychelle Chisolm kept her four children awake past their bedtimes on Tuesday night because she wanted them to experience history.

She was not the only parent to bring her children to the Democratic Party of Virginia's Election Night celebration, held at Toad's Place near the canal. The dimly lit bar and concert hall were packed with 700 people of all races, ages and genders, congregating to watch the candidates cross the electoral finish line.

The lower level and balcony were filled with supporters whose faces were lit by the glow of the MSNBC coverage playing on two large-screen monitors, erupting in cheers and clanking cocktails as states turned from yellow to blue.

Many of the supporters said that President-elect Barack Obama's economic policies were the main reason he had earned their votes. His health care, education, foreign and environmental policies had also played a large role in their decisions.

The television coverage was supplemented by frequent updates about statewide and citywide mayoral results from local officials.

"I've got a feeling we're going to break that record from 1964 tonight," one official said.

Although there was an overall sentiment of confidence early in the night, it was Obama's win in Ohio that turned optimism into celebration. Miniature American Flags were distributed and people began to dance. Still, some voters were hesitant about dancing too early.

"It's not over until the fat lady sings," Richmond native Brooke Spieidenner said.

Philip Goodpasture said he drove to the polls at 5 a.m. to vote for Obama, not only because of his policies, but also because of the way that he had run his campaign.

"He is a new generation," Goodpasture said, "and that's what America needs."

His wife, Paige Goodpasture, said that because Virginia was considered a battleground state this year, this was the most exciting presidential election she could remember.

"I loved Bill Clinton," Paige Goodpasture said, "but the level of depth and enthusiasm for Barack Obama has been like nothing I've ever seen in a presidential candidate."

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Obama's education reform policies, especially ones that would enable students to earn scholarships through community service, were the main reasons senior Gina LeBlanc had been supporting Obama from the beginning, she said.

Leblanc also commented on what Obama as president would mean for America's black population.

"It would say so much about how far we've come," she said.

In addition to encouraging more minority engagement in politics it would help dispel implicit biases and internalized stereotypes, LeBlanc said.

The global opinion of the United States would be the most immediate change with Obama as president, Spieidenner said.

"We've lost a lot of credibility over the last eight years," Spieidenner said. "I think Obama would help us get some of it back."

Junior Dennis Romberg, an exchange student from Germany, said all of his European friends were rooting for Obama.

"All of them couldn't understand why I would want to come to America to study," Romberg said. "I'm hoping with Obama elected that will change."

Even though New Zealand's presidential elections are in two days, its citizen's were more excited about the American election, said New Zealand exchange student Sam Fernando, a junior.

Richmond resident Laura Cribbs, who has worked on presidential campaigns for more than 20 years, said she had never seen an election bring so many different kinds of people together.

When the results from Virginia were announced, people exploded in chants and hugs. Drinks were spilled, tears were shed.

The fat lady had finally sung.

Contact staff writer Emily Viviani at

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