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Latest posts: “Indy Races” [two-part story] and “Page One” [single image].
TIP: Click on any image to jump to that frame. For other navigation tips, click on this button. Barack Obama announced his v.p. choice, Joe Biden, on August 23, two days before the Democratic convention began in Denver. The two-month v.p. selection process was noted for its lack of leaks. Another Republican thought not to be a shoo-in with Indiana voters in 2008 was the incumbent governor, Mitch Daniels, whose zeal for privatization has been controversial. In the end, though, Daniels won reelection by over 17 points. Neither of Indiana’s U.S. senators had to face the voters this year. News that John McCain had selected a running mate leaked during the Democrats’ convention. The day after the convention was concluded, on his 72nd birthday, McCain introduced Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Ohio. Palin, 44, was the fall campaign’s sensation. Her October 18th guest appearance on Saturday Night Live earned the show its biggest audience in 14 years. “The crowd seemed genuinely thrilled to have her there,” photographer Robin Jerstad recalls, despite having to wait over an hour: “There were only eight metal detectors [for a crowd of 10,000] . . . overall just very poor planning.” Palin helped McCain with voters he couldn’t take for granted: conservatives and Republicans. But moderates and independents were less enamored of McCain’s v.p. choice—and six of 10 voters in those groups plumped for Obama, according to the Associated Press’s Election Day exit polls. “I got the impression at this event that the crowd already knew he would win the state and the election,” says photographer Jerstad. “It was more like a coronation than a campaign rally. I talked to some [crowd members] after the event and they said it was a day that they would remember for the rest of their lives.” Professional pollster Michael Barone is among those who believe that Obama’s superiority in grass-roots organization, developed during the primary season, made a big difference in states like Indiana in the general election. Jerstad comments: “I was always impressed by how healthy Senator Obama looked. Despite a gruelling schedule, he always looked fresh to me. . . . He seemed to engage each and every person he spoke to as if he’d known them for a long time.” Two-thirds of the under-30 vote nationwide went to Obama, according to CNN’s report on Election Day exit polling. Indiana allows any registered voter to vote “absentee-in-person” beginning 29 days before Election Day. Early voting ended at noon the day before Election Day in most Indiana counties. The numbers of early voters “seemed to grow exponentially each and every day,” says Jerstad. “It almost became the fad to vote that way.” The AP estimated that some 572,000 Hoosiers—12% of the state’s registered voters—took advantage of early voting this year. This was McCain’s third campaign visit to Indiana. His prior visit had been on July 1. McCain’s plane flew almost directly over the crowd on its approach, prompting a burst of cheers, says Jerstad. “I felt like the crowd truly believed that they were going to see the man who was going to win the election the next day.” Jerstad continues: “It was also just a gorgeously sunny day which really made for a high saturation quality of the images.” McCain’s visit to Indianapolis was part of an election-eve tour that touched down in seven states. After voting in Chicago, Obama traveled to Indiana for his final 2008 campaign stop. McCain voted in Phoenix, then made two final campaign appearances in Nevada and Colorado. Indiana’s turnout in this year’s general election was up some 11% over 2004. “The day was just beautiful here. . . . Warm sunny weather really contributed to the high turnout. It made it a joy to shoot,” Jerstad recalls, adding: “I really like the way the light worked out on [this shot].” “This woman seemed unsure of what she needed to do, what the process was,” the photographer continues. “Shortly after the image was taken, a poll worker nicely answered all her questions and she went about her business.” Indiana was one of four states still uncalled when Obama concluded his victory speech after midnight. Of the other three: Montana was called the next day for McCain, North Carolina two days later for Obama; at this writing (three weeks after Nov. 4) Missouri remained too close to call. TIP: Hover your cursor over the index pages for convenient access to all of the bonus commentary.
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