The Washington Post

N.C. crowd watches Ohio

CLAYTON, N.C. -- At 9:15 p.m., news organizations call Pennsylvania for the Obama and the crowd burst into loud sustained cheers at the Flipside restaurant in Clayton, NC.

Many in the group of about 50 or so, young and not so much, about equal parts black and white, had been getting together since volunteering for the Democrats in the 2008 election. They  hosted a watch party for the third debate  in this largely Republican Southern town. And since then, the restaurant had bought a brand new flat screen TV,  and folks leaned in close to watch the flurry of results on MSNBC.

Ohio flashed and and there was a collective gasp, but at 9:20 it was too close to call.

Loren Kent, 40, a teacher in a rural part of Johnston County, which voted over 61 percent Republican in 2008, supported Obama because she thinks he’s pro-education. Pamela Austin, 59, who is about to retire as a cook from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says she appreciates Obama’s fair pay, abortion rights and gay marriage positions.

Jacqueline Graham, 52, a claims processor for an insurance company, said she voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and  George W. Bush in 2004. “I have no problem voting for a Republican as long as their issues are that they are going to help people. But recently, this year, [Republicans] have become so mean-spirited,” she said.

 A network declares Sen. Sherrod Brown winner in the Ohio Senate race and the crowd gets loud again. “Fired up,” comes a shout from the front. “Ready to go,” comes the answer. Anything Ohio sends the crowd into a frenzy.

Lonnae O’Neal writes a column about family, motherhood, race, culture, aging and life’s small stuff.

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