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. John

    Thanks for letting me re-live a great night. I was so happy to be in Grant Park that night and I'll never forget that moment that CNN called the election for Obama.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  2. Jay Allen

    Absolutely incredible reading some of the posts here of folks crying and becoming all emotional over this. Yes, it was historic, but lets be realistic here folks. (Seems to me I recall the same reaction when Clinton one too)

    Obama has A LOT to live up to. He made a lot of promises and claims during the campaign that he needs to own up to, and by the look of things he is not starting off as the "I'm a Uniter not a Divider" President. Bringing in Emanuel – are you serious??? Is this how you Unite the Republicans and Democrats? Emanuel is nothing more than a Democratic Dick Cheney, don't kid yourself into thinking otherwise.

    Great, turn the country from extreme right-wing to extreme left-wing. When will we ever learn and elect people who have OUR good in mind instead of their party's.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  3. Martin Mulimbwa

    You guys are a bunch of brains that know their job !
    CNN is an excellent source for news. I really like AC and of course my favorable analyst David Gergen – Mr Gergen is always objective and truthful about the candidate issue, with no favoritism – David is a quality analyst, very intelligent ! no wonder he advised previous presidents ! Obama should really hire him as well !!

    You guys are the best !
    I fill like I am now addicted to CNN like I am addicted to my Tim Horton's coffee which I do not miss every morning.

    Keep up the good work guys !


    November 14, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Rick jackson

    My brother lives in Chicago. About 2 years ago I went to visit him. My sister in law oicked me up at the airport and on the way home the town just stopped. There was breaking news. Senator Barack Obama was opening up his exporatory comittee to seek out the democratic Presidential Nomination for 2008. I asked my sister in law who is this guy? She told me a very popular Senator. I said anyone with a name like Obama is all right with me. She also told me there were rumblings earlier about him running for President. from that point on I knew he would win.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  5. Sherry L. Grant

    I love Roland Martin. He is the true voice of black America. He was able to try to give a vioce for the professional blacks in America that will never be heard. Thanks Roland.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  6. yvonne ransom

    election night made headlines with CNN all over the world. The count down seem as it was magical thanks to cnn and new technology

    November 14, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  7. Farhana

    Thank you, CNN for the great job this election season. I had CNN on from 5:30 pm to 1:30 pm on Election night. And you have been my most trusted source to get all my Election News.
    Like many other viewers, I was also in tears of joy when you made the announcement.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  8. Alec, Cincinnati

    CNN – you should consider selling the broadcast of your election night coverage. I should have recorded it on my DVR. It would be great to go back and watch again as history was announced!

    November 14, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Mark B.

    I go to American University (second video on the link provided at the end), and that night was absolute pandemonium. About 600 of us gathered in the campus-wide common room where the video was recorded (I attempted to record a video too, but it was of much lower quality due to shaking in anticipation). Almost the entire group consisted of Obama supporters, and the moment they declared him the victor, as you can see, everyone freaked out.

    A few minutes later, CNN showed a clip of people celebrating outside the white house, and many of the people in the common room got off-campus and moved the campus celebration there.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  10. debbie

    I was afraid to watch...and once I got the nerve to watch, it was really a lot of fun to see how far "off" the other stations were from CNN's coverage. CNN just had the best coverage. However I must admit as an Obama supporter, as the returns came in and the race hurtled toward the inevitable conclusion, it WAS fun to turn to FoxNews and see the glum faces.

    The only other event that I recall in my lifetime that brought so many people together was ... sadly... 9/11. Perhaps it's fitting that these two disparate events bookend eight of the worst years in American history, Let's put a period to this period and move onward, and upward. Yes, we can.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  11. kbbpll

    It was amusing to flip to Faux News and see them trying to spin McCain/Palin going down in flames.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  12. debi

    Absolutely astonishing!!! Here it is 10 days later and I still am brought to tears by this amazing display of humanity. God Bless the USA and the entire world!

    November 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  13. Kent Moreno - Burlington, WV

    Intellectually, I knew Obama was going to win but after the outrage of 2000 and the crushing disappointment of 2004, the best I would allow myself is a position of guarded, cautious optimism.

    From 7:00 p.m. on I watched CNN, and tracked the progress via the CNN and BBC websites.

    When they announced Obama had won, I was happy but did not experience the joy I had planned on experiencing. I had learned 8 hours earlier that my stepsister and her two small children had died in a fiery car accident.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  14. David G.

    My family had a late night party with all of our children staying up to watch the election on November 4th. All of our family cheered (and my wife and I cried) when CNN projected Obama as the winner. We don't even get that excited over New Year's Eve, which after all, happens every year. It was probably thirty minutes before we remembered to put some very tired kids to bed as we were so moved by the moment. Thanks for highlighting these videos and moments in your article.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Kathryn Davis

    This is great! Please keep this link active for a very long time.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  16. C.P. of Chicago, IL

    CNN did have the best coverage! The best hologram and the best comments afterward. I love watching CNN Politics because it is in HD and you can watch everything. We had small election parties in hour home during the primaries and the generalbecause we could see everything! So far, other stations cannot compare.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Fred Myers

    "The applause for the countdown switches mid-cheer to that of total surprise."

    Watching the video, I would use the word "jubilation" and not "surprise." The switch was between cheering a team on to victory, and cheering that victory once won.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  18. madison

    It makes me sick that people like Lamonte Austin think that republicans are racists who could care less about the significance of this election. That's simply not the case.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Linda in FL

    I pre-planned a vacation day from work on 11/5, just so I could stay up as late as it took to hear who won. I knew I would be thrilled to hear that Barack had won, but when it was announced, I actually cried. I think I cried not just because I was happy, but also for the historical significance of it. I am a white female and over 50 and have never been this interested in an election. The result of this election makes up for the results of the last two!

    November 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  20. Alex, Calgary, Canada

    Perhaps the most telling clip of the lot is the one from Austin, TX, proving that not everyone in that state automatically votes Republican. I don't recall in my life a presidential election attracting this much worldwide interest. Granted, Bush is so hated around the world that McCain would have been cheered just because he wasn't Bush. But Obama's got a vibe we haven't seen since Kennedy. If the Republicans want to get back into office, they need to pay heed.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  21. Robin

    The CNN-Grant Park countdown went up on YouTube so quickly that, and I've been watching it everyday since! It still brings tears reliving the moment!!

    November 14, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  22. Ayana Sacramento, Ca.

    I actually stayed home from work 11/04/2008, because I knew it would be historic, which ever side ended up winning. My television was tuned to CNN from 4:00 am PST that morning. When my state's polls were about to close I knew that California would put then Senator Obama over the top. It's one of the first times that I actually saw my state put a candidate over the top. I grabbed my daughter and my camcorder and started recording that amazing moment when Wolfe Blitzer announced their projection of Barack Obama becoming President-Elect. I started crying and explaining to my 4 year old why this was such an amazing and once thought impossible moment in our time and history.

    I always turn to CNN for ELECTION COVERAGE!!!


    November 14, 2008 at 1:04 pm |
  23. Agnes Fleming

    Indeed, it was an awesome moment in history and I was captivated. I surfed between PBS and CNN, in case I missed anything. I was also glad to catch McCain's concession speech, which was gracious, and the Palins' ungracious stance, look, and angry body language that screeched of animosity between the McCains and Palins. You mean, Anderson, you did not notice it?

    November 14, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  24. ironmadonna

    CNN addict since day 1 here...AC's anchor and mediation of political analysts on election nite was strong,respectful and had no shortage of direction...say something about Obama's interests paying off Str. Clinton's campaign debts as a post election reconciliation prize..Then tell her how fortunate she is that the unlikeliest American has extended her a more generous hand than any political body ever would in history...How do YOU spell change?
    Blue, in red AZ who knows....

    November 14, 2008 at 11:49 am |
  25. SlyRanger

    I am glued to CNN. Can't stop watching as of recent time as you folks have been doing a wonderful Job in keeping the public updated in all the recent news.
    I love 360.. funny at times yet good and clear news casting..I think Lou goes overboard at times and no one take him seriously.. Wolf's my guy though.
    Can one of you guys explain how the Blair bail out plan is going to help out people who bought homes in the last 5 years and are now sitting at a 30% loss of value. Make it worse if they loose their Job.
    Why didn't the put the bail out companies on such a plan also, rather than giving them monies to spend freely?. Are they all going to pay back the monies with the same terms they are giving us home owners?.
    One more stick us the middle-class, you know where and, no grease again.. The Bush governments can't stop amazing us!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  26. RYN

    Now that all the celebrating is almost over, Obama will have to deal with the real world where not everyone is anxious to fawn all over him. He is going to find that solving problems is not as easy as blaming Bush for everything.

    November 14, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  27. james clark

    Euphoric moments have a way of disappearing. After all, a large number of euphoric weddings end in divorce. Will the same throngs of folk be screaming shouts of joy a year or two from now? It has been my experience that the democrats have an uncanny ability to screw things up once they get them. Take a look at California and Michigan, both under longtime democratic control, and observe their billions in state deficits and high unemployment beyond the rest of the nation. Never mind that the governor of California is republican by party as he is more a democrat by nature. Will democratic control of congress, coupled with a democratic president, lead to the entire nation being financially ruined like these two states?

    November 14, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  28. Larry L.

    Election night on CNN was the BEST,I surfed some other stations ,but watched it here.Thank You CNN

    I'm glad that so many people were so excited about the results,I hope we can stay that way over the long haul–I do doubt it though.Assuming we have a country left,I'm looking forward to watching it in 4 years again on CNN,hopefully with a different result.

    November 14, 2008 at 9:30 am |
  29. Stephanie, Henderson, NV

    After becoming frustrated with the obvious one-sidedness of other networks, I found CNN. I rarely watched CNN before the election coverage ramped up, and now I am a fan. I was so impressed with how CNN covered both sides instead of being blatantly for one candidate or the other. I truly enjoyed the contributions and was impressed the breadth of knowledge from the various contributors and analysts. Great job!!!

    November 13, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  30. JRQ La Habra, Ca

    I'm so old I can remember when the news was 5 minutes. And we could not keep em Honest then! Thank you CNN for keeping them Honest this election.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  31. lampe

    Lamont austin: I would like to ask you a question. If, Obama had lost, how do you think his supporters, would have reacted? Do you honestly think, for one minute, there would not have been some very angry people, who just might have been booing?

    November 13, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  32. Rosie S

    Always CNN. Blitzer, Cooper and team did a great job, it was just a pity it was all over so soon . I missed staying up till the wee hours waiting on the results of the too close to call States.
    David Gergen should be offered a position within the new administration

    November 13, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  33. Annie Kate

    It was quite a night and I spent it all with CNN – no other network has so many analysts representing so many different views and groups...its always interesting to hear what they all have to say and that night it was mesmerizing. Watching Obama give his speech in Grant Park was the most electric moment I've witnessed in a long time. There are 2 speeches that I have personally heard that I will always remember – JFK's inaugural address and Obama's victory speech; both had the same tone and the same inspiration. Thank you CNN for your coverage – you did an amazing job.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    November 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  34. Patrick, Belfast, Ireland.

    CNN was the best news station on the night of the election. All the British and Irish TV stations covered the election from 12am our time until 6am, but I told my friends to watch your programme, because you were the team on the night, or the morning, in Ireland. Your projections, as usual, were spot on, and your political pundits were most definitely the cream of the crop. Worth waiting up for, and not to be missed. CNN for me from now on! That guy John king was a whizz on that magic screen, wolf was brilliant, and Anderson, plus your studio guests, and Barak Obama, whom the Irish all supported, wasn't bad either. That winning speech was mind – blowing! And oh, give Erica a frontline job on your panel, I could watch her all night, a real cutie!

    November 13, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  35. Sandra L. Reed-Mansfield Ohio

    Thank you CNN, for your great coverage of the election campaigns and for keeping us informed throughout election night. I live in Richland county Ohio, and because as usual we could not do it right, we didn't learn of any voting counts until the next day. It seems our Election Board decided to try the same old counting method that was different from anyone else in Ohio, and ran into trouble.Personally, I think it was because all early counts showed a win for Obama and in Richland County that was not only a surprise but unacceptable. President-Elect Barack Obama won without any votes from Mansfield Ohio or Richland County Ohio, and that's the historic moment we have here to tell our kids.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  36. sharon from Indy

    It is like Happy New Year! A new president!

    November 13, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  37. Kathy, Chicago

    This is the first time I have ever followed a race like this and i loved every moment. Thank you CNN. Though I have never believed that Obama was the God others think he is, I'm looking forward to watching his administration play out.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  38. Cherisa

    The clips that give me goosebumps are from the international viewers. It seems so long since anyone cheered for the US on the world stage.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  39. Paco - Tucson, AZ

    Kudos to CNN. I enjoy having this site as one of my trusted news sources.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  40. Larry

    Since obama's campaign still has about 20 million supporters in its computer database they are all set for the next election starting Jan. 21/09.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  41. Joanne, Syracuse, NY

    I worked 17 hours as an election examiner, watched CNN at home until the call was made and got a good night's sleep. Thank you.

    November 13, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  42. Hilda Taylor

    Cooper is real kool! He kept us in the know when the victims of Hurricane Katrina were left to themselves in New Orleans.
    I'm so glad someone promoted him with his own show and he was in charge when the election was called. Yeah, Anderson Cooper we love to watch his show on CNN.

    November 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  43. Hilda Taylor

    Why have you given so much television time to Sarah Palin? We kept switching to other channels. Haven't we learned our lesson with George Bush.
    I would rather see Anderson Cooper, Matt Lauer, Tom Brokow, Brian Williams, Meredith Viearra run for president before Sarah Palin!
    If George Bush, Arnold Schwartznegger, Ronald Reagan were presidents and governor then why not you. You guys are real intelligent and it's not who you are but who you know!

    November 13, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  44. Vic in TX

    CNN, you've come a long way Baby!!!!.....I don't think I will ever not be teary eyed when I see any of these and other videos. It just means so much!

    Awesome job guys!!!!!

    November 13, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  45. Stacy

    Thanks for the links, David. Very cool. Personally I found election night much more exciting than New Year's Eve. On the latter we usher in one new year, but on election night we ushered in four.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  46. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    CNN you are welcome! it was a pleasure to share this moment with you (and to relive it). Your coverage was phenomenal.

    Like Sue, I have been a loyal CNN viewer/addict since 1980.

    Thank you Ted Turner and Happy Birthday!

    November 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  47. Lamont austin

    It was better than new years. I cant believe republicans thought they could win with the campaign they ran. Obama's crowds seemed like more of a reflection of america, Mccains crowds looked like a bunch of racist they couldnt care about racial relations nor the black vote or the hespanic vote, what does that tell you about the repub. party...

    They are the true elite-ist
    They will actually have to embrace the ideal of change the most, if they ever expect to wow all of the american people...


    November 13, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  48. Catherine

    I was in Grant Park. Watching this clip still gives me chills and tears!

    November 13, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  49. Theresa, Nickerson Ks

    I watched CNN that night and cried tears of joy I've not cried since my daughter was born 3 years ago.

    Watching that clip, remembering my own emotion and reliving it...I'm crying just sitting here. I don't think watching that moment will ever get old.

    CNN did such a great job covering the entire election fairly and without any bias from my standpoint as a viewer. Great job! The election night coverage was a perfect blend of emotion, fact, education, and excitement. There's no question why you guys are the best!

    (Makes me want to use my journalism degree someday...)

    November 13, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  50. Sue

    To think I remember when CNN first came out, and I thought how silly a 24 hour news... who would watch that.. and now count me as the addicted, during and not during elections!

    November 13, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
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