November 13th, 2008
11:24 PM ET

The countdown that called the election

Watch the crowd in Grant Park, Chicago react to CNN's Projection for President of the United States.
Watch the crowd in Grant Park, Chicago react to CNN's Projection for President of the United States.

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Wanted to share something cool with you.

Election night at CNN was one of the busiest nights of the year... as producers, reporters, and control room staff scrambled to get viewers the latest projections as polls closed in states across the country.

But it seems for those of you watching us, it was a whole different story.

Who knew crowds were counting down with CNN's 'poll closings' as if it was New Year's in Time Square!?!

One countdown in particular brought an instant double-reaction from many crowds;

Flash back to Nov 4 – The time is 11:00pm ET – Polls are closing in 10 seconds in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii...

Crowds begin count down: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 .... Ready to cheer when our countdown clock hits '1' (as they did six other times that night)... except this time it's different.

CNN calls the race...

One pro-Obama website that clearly couldn't get enough of the victory has pulled together the best clips from across the country, and around the world of that moment; Showing people's instant reaction to CNN's projection of Barack Obama's presidential win. (For the record, there aren't many videos of that moment at McCain parties.... though they were cheering for their candidate all night long as well)

What I find amazing is that you can literally hear the moment it registers with them... The applause for the countdown switches mid-cheer to that of total surprise.

Take a look (and a listen)

Filed under: David M. Reisner • Raw Politics
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    My happiest moment when I saw the Great State of Ohio vote Obama. I am a native of the Buckeye state and I have seen what the Republican administration has cost this State.

    November 16, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  2. Mark

    While it's wrong to not vote for someone because of the color of his skin, it's just as wrong to vote FOR someone because of the color of his skin-or by how eloquently he speaks. We've been given this right to vote, many have died to keep it, so it must be our responsiblity to look underneath the skin and make an informed decision.

    When the novelty wears off, and we see that he's just a politician, & not the messiah, only then will we know if this euphoria is justified. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

    November 15, 2008 at 8:28 am |
  3. midwest mom

    one more thought..CNN you are awesome...down came my hearthrob poster of Brad Pitt, up went David Gergen. David-you ROCK...loved your deliberate, well thought out analysis...not biased, just well spoken and well researched. Come on CNN-this guys needs his OWN SHOW!

    November 14, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  4. theresa

    As awesome as the Obama victory is, it is amazing to hear the energy people in other countries had invested in our election process.

    I no longer feel the need to include an "I did not vote and do not support…" disclaimer on correspondence with people from other countries.

    November 14, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  5. julie

    woohoo! i too, was one of the people who was counting down the last seconds of the election with cnn =). It was an incredible moment! infact i started jumping for joy when i heard barack obama is the winner! =D ill never forget that day, even though im only 17 years old. thanks for being the best cnn!

    November 14, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  6. Elizabeth in OC

    I feel sorry for Gary, who is now ashamed of his country. The mud slinging didn't work and now he's disappointed. Pity he can't appreciate the fact that we've just had a historic election, that many, many people (over 66 million of us) decided Obama is not responsible for his minister's opinions and a passing acquaintance with a former radical makes us yawn. Pity he can't appreciate the fact that our wonderful democracy again has done the miraculous... control of the most powerful country on earth will once again change hands without a shot being fired or blood flowing in the streets.

    November 14, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  7. michelle seattle

    I don't know if I'll ever not get choked up when I see the moment that Barack was officially elected. It was one of the biggest celebrations of my lifetime - bigger than any New Years party! It's still hard to believe sometimes 🙂

    November 14, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  8. Joy

    My dad cried born and raised in Kentucky in his almost 80 years on this earth he has seen some of the worst. Last time I seen my dad cry was when my grandmother his mom died. My mom shed tears too..Born in Mississippi she saw Black men beat, burn drowned and hung. Her ONLY brother killed in front of her by some angry White men. I cried too for the joy and hope for my own kids. You know what I was thinking watching it all on tv? We are down here on earth crying and heaven was rejoicing!

    November 14, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  9. Gary

    For the first time in my adult life I am ashamed of this country. To vote in a person that associated with terrorists and whose minister and spiritual advisor for 20 years preached hate for America and particularly white people is a shame and disgrace.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  10. Penny

    This moment transcended politics. It was history being made. We crossed a major chasm and "the Dream" became reality. What really got me: Jesse Jackson, Sr. in tears. For what he fought for in the Civil Rights movement, this moment must have been bittersweet for him and others who were involved in the movement. I know that all involved wished that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could have lived to see this moment. While many may not agree with Obama's opinions or political views, as Americans we should all be proud that he was elected. It shows the world that we mean it when we say, "All men are created equal."

    November 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  11. L. Dunn

    CNN, you're simply the best! I'm with you ALWAYS! You have the best coverage, the best political team, the best researchers...NOBODY can top your coverage!

    Thanks for the moment. Thanks for the memory. Thanks for caring about the MEANING of it all!!! Again, you're simply the best!

    November 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Orange County CA Democrat

    On November 3rd, I told my husband, "I feel like I'm a kid again and it's Christmas Eve!!" I absolutely felt that way. After seeing these celebrations, I'm so sorry I didn't go to an Election Night party. Thank you so much for posting this. It is absolutely wonderful to relive and I am completely choked up – again!

    I'd also like to echo other comments regarding some of the wonderful people on CNN – David Gergen and Candy Crowley are at the top of my list for their professionalism, intelligence and total objectivity.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  13. Katie

    This moment brings me to tears every single time I see it. To see so many Americans and WORLD citizens erupt in joy was one of the most profound moments I've ever experienced. Even though I was sitting at home alone, I threw my arms up in the air and cheered and cried and smiled from ear to ear. Regardless of whether you're a Democrat or a Republican you should at least acknowledge how people were able to come together and feel such hope for that night.

    I only wish the right wingers would stop trying to ruin what has been achieved by tossing around so many negative comments. They did not win the election, and if they'd like to win the next, they'd be much better off trying to present themselves in a positive light. Going about referring to Obama as Hitler, Marx, and a terrorist only makes the Republican Party look ignorant, regressive, and frankly, pathetic. If you ask me, these staunch Obama opposers should quit living their lives ruled by fear and outdated "morals" and live by the golden rule.

    Thank you CNN for wonderful coverage of the election and the great job you continue to do afterward to keep us informed during the transition process. I never miss Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper after work!

    November 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  14. Amy, Canton, OH

    I was taping CNN that night. I've watched it a couple of times since b/c I want to get that feeling back again. It was an amazing night.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  15. Fay, CA

    I was too freaked out and nervous to watch the election coverage–I taped it (lame, I know) so in case the outcome wasn't what I wanted, I wouldn't bother watching the tape. Ultimately I got curious and flipped on CNN right at the time when the projection came through and it was a truly remarkable moment–one that I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. Watching my tape of CNN's excellent election coverage after it was all over was a real pleasure–I still haven't been able to bring myself to erase the tape–I don't think I can...

    November 14, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  16. Patrick

    I was very amazed at the awesome CNN coverage. This is history, folks!!! I cried like a little French school girl. I am still crying. All I do now is just watch that coverage and cry. I thought I was all cried out but after reviewing it again, I went through another box of Kleenex. Thanks so much for the great coverage, CNN. You guys really do the news right without favor or bias...... Hats off to CNN!!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  17. Anahita

    My Husband & I were at the Madonna concert in San Diego, Ca.
    She was hour and hlaf late, we had no cule that Obama had won, after 2000 election, we didn't want to sepculate and be too positive.
    We thougt maybe she wants to make an announcment.
    Anyway after 10Pm, in hte middle of one of her songs she shouted that if we were ready for an new President and Obama had won.

    over 40,000 people cheered, it was a life time expereince, we will never forget.
    You can see it all on YOuTube, then she had his pictuere on the backdrop and made a huge announcment and brought everyone together, even days later we were still on cloud nine from the expereince.
    Then she turned the whole show into a clebration party at the end, all wearing obama t. shirts and jumping on top of each other on stage and people really went wild.
    So this was our unforgetable evening, a once in a life time expereince. Which we should never forget, Now that we all voted for change we all have to be the agents of change and help eachother.
    Change doesn't come form outside, it's an inner journey.
    Now we all have to put on an effort and make that change possiable.
    Good luck and best wishes to everyone who wants any kind of a change.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  18. Sandi Villarreal

    Thanks so much for sharing this video with everyone. It all happened so fast that it was great to watch it all over again and relive what appeared on the screen that night with Wolf's announcement. I'll never forget it. CNN is the best!

    November 14, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  19. Rick in L.A.

    Thanks, CNN, although I admit I was channel surfing and Jon Stewart was the one who gave me the news. But all things considered, CNN was doing a better job that night. I'll never forget it.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  20. Jan

    This was a powerfully emotional night in our suburban Chicago home. We are hopeful that our Pride in America will be restored.

    President-Elect Obama === you have our family's support. Please dig into these CEO and senior management pay and severance packages. It's insane - and the rest of us are having to pay for their greed and unrestraint.

    President Obama - Thank you for taking all this on. You're the best.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  21. Rick in L.A.

    Thank you CNN. Like a lot of others, I was channel surfing my rear end off that night, and although CNN had the best coverage, I must admit I was cruising Comedy Central when Jon Stewart announced
    "It's official; Barack Obama has won the election and is the next president of the United States." This will be a moment my entire family and I were blessed to witness, and it will never, ever be forgotten.
    Thanks again.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  22. MCM

    I will always remember that moment. 42 year old men aren't supposed to cry, but I was so overcome with Joy, that it could not be helped. Thank you CNN!!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  23. Dan, IL

    There's more than tears falling. If only the market was as excited about Obama being elected.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  24. conse from texas

    Awesome to hear and see the people shouting and jumping for joy!!
    I can not remember when we as a people celebrated in the streets like we did that night. Great to see and be part of the whole thing.
    Thanks CNN for being unbiased an fair about the reporting. I know I'll continue to watch your coverage of anything and everything.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  25. Uncle Ellsworthy

    "I was amazed – I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about anything anymore. I felt part of something bigger – a bigger government that would absolve me of any personal financial responsibility."

    Thats why an awful lot of people are going to be filled with, disapointment and worse. They expect the Government to do everything for them. People who feel this way like Kevin above do not want to ever be accountable for their own lives. Let the government do it seems to be their motto. As President, Obama will NOT do all the things these people expect him to do, it ain't happening.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  26. Elizabeth in OC

    To James Clark, It's hard to imagine the next four years being worse than the last eight. I am 50 years old and a native Californian. California's economy was doing just peachy until the Bush wrecking crew (Moron, Enron, and Chevron) scammed and screwed us. We've been paying ever since. The elation of election night is second only to the relief we will feel on Inauguration day, when all we Californian's hold dear will no longer be under assault.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  27. dave in nyc

    OMG, now i'm all emotional all over again!

    i'm constantly surprised at myself by how moving this is!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  28. cheryl briscoe

    CNN was the only show to watch during election night. All of the experts are exactly that "experts" and they make the event all the more interesting and fun!!!

    Congratulations to CNN for doing a great job!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  29. Tom Simmons

    How about the cheers in the CNN newsroom when its candidate won?

    I am pleased that we have an African-American president. I am glad my kids can dream of being anything and am glad all American children can now do the same.

    But, I'm afraid of the cost. There will always be economic problems. But capitalism is clearly established as a superior economic system that benefits all in the long run. We will suffer greatly from the program Obama promises in unguarded moments. Socialism is not the answer to a failed Bush presidency.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  30. Jon Barnes, Fort Wayne, IN

    There are two moments in my life that are not related to anything personal that I will never forget. 9/11 and the moment the election was called for Obama........and CNN was the channel I was watching both times.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  31. Michael

    That night an entire world joined our nation in joyful tears. The relief that the long nightmare of neocon rule (best characterized by our European friends as "eight years of hell") is over; the pride that a majority of Americans were able to turn history to a more hopeful course; the dizzy incredulous hope that our children may perhaps have a future after all...
    Like the day they began tearing down the Berlin Wall, this moment will move a generation to tears whenever it is brought to mind, for the rest of our lives.
    A turning point in the history of this great nation and of the world!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  32. Richard

    I watched the election on cnn.com and was announcing results into chat rooms as they were posted. I remember the west coast suddenly turning blue and posting, "I think Obama just won."

    November 14, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  33. Hannah

    Thank you CNN for a great coverage. I enjoyed every minture of that moment and it's a piece of history i will cherish for the rest of my life.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  34. Mark

    It seems this was the day the world finally breathed again. I remember sitting in my car at the gas station listening to the news when it was broadcast. The only clue I had that the radio hadn't jumped the gun in calling the race was the fact that there were explosions of fireworks throughout the neighborhood. I looked into the station to see the attendant jumping up and down. Seems like we really needed this. Can't help but tear up seeing the emotion from that day.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  35. Siamak Vaziri

    I think CNN did a fantastic job throughout the whole election process. I was extremely impressed with the coverage of the primaries. Although, I believe that CNN leans more "left" , and FOX leans more "right", I was convinced that CNN still provided solid bi-partisan unbias coverage. For that, I salute you. Irrespective of my beliefs, and I am a democrat, I strongly believe that Anderson is the best in business. I thank you for your contributions.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  36. HR

    I was tuned in that night and I cried like a baby. My son called from SC, and I couldn't speak. As an African-American in my early 50's I never thought I would see that day happen. Seeing it over again, from so many perspectives has me crying again. It was truly awesome, and one of my proudest moments as an American!
    I hope that CNN will rebroadcast that moment again so that I can save it. It was great work. Thanks you also for allowing us to just listen and watch. That is great journalism. Somethings speak for themselves. Good job!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  37. maria Wells

    So exciting. My mother who barely speaks English was visiting from aborad and she and I both cried. I feel empowered and motivated to do whatever new idea comes to my mind. Yes, I Can and motivation that fuels a human body. I am ready and excited.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  38. Angela

    Cnn, you did a spectacular job delivering the most inspiring contests this planet has ever experienced. The world is rejoicing!! I am a single mom with two kids in college and for the first time in my life as a mom I can honestly say to them that the world is finally going in the right direction. They both have more hope and so do I. Thanks CNN! I You're the best!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  39. Joyce

    I'm 51 years old and have never been so glued to CNN and have never as interested in politics as I have been in the last 20 months. Thank you CNN for your coverage – election night brought tears of joy to say the least . I could cry now just thinking of it!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  40. Warren L. Early

    I agree with the others here. I worked the polls during the day and got home around 8 pm and began to watch CNN with a bowl of popcorn.
    When the announcement was made it WAS like New Years eve.
    I could have kissed a a republican! Ha!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  41. Lucy

    I am still crying when I watch those videos. Thank you CNN for always being there when it counted.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  42. Monica

    Thanks for making me cry at work!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  43. kat

    Honestly, I don't have cable so the only CNN I watch is at the gym but I was on CNN.com almost everyday to see how this election played out. Election night I watched on a local station and waited with bated breath for the polls to close. I have never been so happy for all of us as Americans then I was the moment Katie Couric called the election for Obama. Definitely one of the best moments of my life.

    Blue in AZ.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  44. Janet, Canada


    when the results came out, I was in a hotel in Arlington, VA. I took pictures of me in front of the TV and the headline: Barack Obama Elected President. I couldn't have been happier. I thank you and Wolf so much for making the night so memorable. And of course, Roland Martin. Such fantastic coverage. You guys are great.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
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