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. Jackie in Dallas

    I would happily watch that moment over and over.

    However, I do NOT happily watch Sarah Palin doing this, doing that. Please, please, someone make her go home and stay there! Seeing the dour faces of the other Republicans behind her on stage today, I can't see how she can continue to delude herself that she is the face of 2012.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  2. Julius

    CNN I would have to agree with Alec from Cincinnati. You should really really reeeeeeeeeally consider selling the election night coverage in its entirety.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  3. Judith

    I am/was delighted with the outcome and greatly enjoyed CNN coverage. I do have a question. How was it possible to declare a victory when the polls had barely closed on the west coast? Do you all get a running tally throughout the evening which allows you to do this and you are only able to declare a winner once the polls officially close? Does this question qualify me as a "doofus"? 🙂

    November 14, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  4. John

    I watched your coverage on our cruise ship from the time we left port on October 31 till we got back on November 6. You were the only news network on the ship's TV network. Thank goodness it wasn't that other network that is a right wing, fascist news organization who report such slanted coverage.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  5. Vickie Hopkins

    What a feeling!!! What a moment!!! Thank you to those who captured the moment and shared these videos with CNN. Here I am, teary-eyed all over again with the biggest smile ever when I hear and see the reaction immediately after the countdown, and you flashed across the screen that Barack Obama won...these are tears of joy. Thank you.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  6. Harrieth

    A historical moment, no doubt. But as usual, the west coast votes did not count. We may as well stop voting for president, since we are so predictable.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  7. Adrian

    I was jumping up and down yelling like my favorite basketball team just won the championship!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  8. Nicole

    Tears and chills over and over again! The unadulterated joy is just so moving, especially when you realize that it happened all over the world. Thanks CNN!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Julius

    Like it's been said before now every American child can aspire to be what ever they want to be. During election day, I noticed how much more diverse the Obama crowd was compared to McCain's. I knew it wasn't going to be just blacks and whites. I knew it would be Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, men, women, and even children all pulling together. It was and will always be one of the single greatest moments of my life.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  10. dl

    how anyone can't be moved by this all...I don't know.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  11. Chris

    We had our friends over to watch and celebrate that night. After watching the east coast swing, and ohio go, we knew that as soon as California polls closed, CNN was going to call the race. As soon as you cut to the last commercial break, it gave us just enough time to get the champagne and glasses ready.

    When the count down hit, and "breaking news" splashed the screen, it was welcomed in our home with bottles popping, cheers, hugs, and tears.

    I will never forget that moment as long as i live.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  12. dawna

    I had no idea ... and, now watching these videos, I am crying joyful tears again and it feels so good! Hey... if you haven't seen Alice Waters' letter to President Obama – google it. An eloquent message from one heart of American spirit to another. YES! WE CAN ... all of us!


    November 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  13. big daddy

    CNN you are the best !! A little story..The sunday before election day
    I was at Mass and our priest told us that if we vote for the pro-abortion
    party,"the blood of abortion is on our hands". I am pro-life but,it really
    upset me that this came from the alter..How many years did it take
    our priests to address the child abuse in our church. ?? I know
    it was NEVER adressed in my church....So,abortion-sex offenders,
    who suffers more? I voted for Mr Obama and I will continue to pray
    for ALL victims of abortions.Thanks for hearing me out.It is still upsetting me.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Anita, Rochester,NY

    I can remember watching Wofl Blitzer on CNN that night, its so clear for me. All of a sudden there I was with my baby in hand and looking at the TV with great anticipation. All of a sudden I see "BARACK OBAMA elected PRESIDENT" I just lost it totally with excitment and overwhelming amount of emotion, it just seem so REAL but yet surreal. I was screaming with joy and happiness that we finally did it. YES WE DID.....CHANGE WON AMERICA!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  15. ann jones

    What a healing moment. everyone was together on 9/11, being Americans together. This is such a different moment, we are all so incredibly happy. As if good triumphed over evil. Keep collecting these for all of us to enjoy........Thanks, CNN

    November 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  16. Bethany

    I was so overwhelmed hearing of Obama's victory. I had to keep explaining to my children that I was crying out of joy. Watching these clips captures the same sense of euphoria from that night. I was more happy to be an American in the first moments after the announcement than I have been in a long time.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  17. Vilma D'Souza

    I was flipping back and forth to Faux News only to listen to them crying watching McCain/Palin going up in flames. Thank you CNN for great reporting. We, in Canada, are addicted to CNN for your unbiased reporting. We love you Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Roland Martin.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  18. kathy

    The announcement of Obama's victory will go down in history as one of those moments when you'll always remember where you were...who you were with and what you were doing. History was made. I still get goosebumps as i reflect back. thanks for the great coverage and continuance of super news.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  19. Strasse01

    CNN, you do a great job. I rushed home in time to be there when you declared the winner. True history. ( I wouldn't rush home to be there for New Year's Eve.)

    But......WHY are you giving so much time to Sarah Palin. She talks much and says nothing. She is a con for sure.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  20. Noble

    The ego stroking on here is AMAZING!!!!!! Look I will be the first to admit that Fox News has a conservative bias. But I guarantee that everyone here would attack me for having the gall to suggest that there is a liberal bias on CNN and just about every other major media outlet. You get to have your comfortable safe news source that caters to your tastes why do you so bemoan conservatives having theirs? Is it so threatening to all of you that someone has a different world view than you do? I am a frequent Fox News watcher but I also watch CNN for perspective, as skewed as it may be. But when I go to the blogs on Fox News I don't see this kind of sugary self aggrandizement. In fact most of the blogs are constantly being flooded by outright hate about how biased, unfair and STUPID Fox News and conservatives are. Swallow your preconceptions and go look for yourselves. That is if you are able to leave this safe security blanket that Ted Turner has created for you.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  21. MD

    Thanks to you we saw history in the making...watching these videos gives me the chills, CNN is the best...I can't believe I once relied on the other channel with the "fair and balanced" coverage. CNN rocks!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  22. Maggie

    I have (in the past) religiously watched Fox , and more recently watched MSNBC...I have found them both to be extremely partisan. However, CNN is really "Fair and balanced" in truth; not to mention as lot more interesting and diverse...so guess what I watch now? CNN!!! It was the best on election night, prior to election night, and now. Thank you for (finally) giving me something to watch that I can believe in.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  23. Riana Lynn

    The best TV moment of my life! One of the best and THE most memorable moment of my life! I was in shock for a good 5 minutes. I have always trusted in CNN, but no one expected it to happen like this. We immediately ran to the streets and started partying. Then the election speech had everyone tearing up again. Who was there? CNN!! Love you guys.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  24. Adriana RM Marietta, Ga

    It was a night my kids and I will never forget.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  25. Kristine

    I made sure to stay up and see it through.. when I could be sure it was true and could sleep through the night. We "lost" Al Gore and felt gutted when Bush was "selected"... I'll never forget watching Obama's electoral votes going up and up and up...nor will I forget the honest, classy concession speech Senator McCain gave. What a night.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  26. Robin in SC

    I wouldn't have thought about spending election night anywhere other than CNN (unless I'd have won that trip to Grant Park!). I've been watching CNN since the Persian Gulf War and am a self-confessed addict. Thanks to all of you for your contributions!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  27. William

    I can't believe we're still talking about it. We are probably going to be worse off for four years.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  28. Pat

    The moment was amazing, as soon as the polls closed on the west coast, Obama was declared the winner and it was like a bolt of lightning! Because it was one of the most singularly historic events of this new century.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  29. MaryK

    Jay Allen – Can you just let people express their emotions without being critical, Pres. Obama has alot of mess to clean up, God knows, but that nite, we could actually be happy for a change. You may want to allow the guy to be inaugerated first, then you can trash him.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  30. Chimare

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE CNN! I was addicted already, but you all kicked it up a notch during this election and you election day coverage was spectacular...When that tornado came through Atlanta earlier this year I called all my friends freaking out and after I knew they were ok I immediately asked them how was the CNN building...LOL! I watch you all everyday. It is even the homepage on my Blackberry! Keep up the good work!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  31. Rolling in the Aisles, VA

    It was like the feeling I had watching the underdog Giants beating the perfect Pats in Super Bowl XLII, only bigger, with many more people having seen this victory of reason coming. It was exultation across the planet and a real chance for America to rejoin the civilized world! Stop the bitterness and fear and give the man a chance to do what he can for all our sakes, "real" Americans should want to see him succeed!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  32. Toni D.

    I followed the whole election process all the way up to election night – it was very exciting to watch and listen to all of the comments; and I too can't get enough of CNN – it's the best news network ever! Cooper Anderson, Walt Blitzer and the the whole CNN team are phenomenal. You're all my favorite. Keep up the excellent work.

    Ps. Love watching Larry King Live (most of the time)..

    November 14, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  33. Denise in LA

    I started crying as soon as the reality hit. It was an emotionally overwhelming moment. We had all come together, and our choice affirmed that Americans have at least one quality that unites them, hope. We didn't elect a "black" president. We elected the one man who embodies the hope, the strength, the intellect, and the character to lead in a way no one has in a long, long, long time. You can see for yourself, white, black, latino, asain...it doesn't matter, we all see the same thing in President Elect Obama...a future. He is not just the new President of the United States, the hopes of an entire world are pinned on this man.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  34. Samantha

    Jay Allen:

    People are crying over this because they genuineely DO Believe that Obama is for the people, not just the Democrats. He is already making moves towards a bipartisan administration. I wouldnt be surprised if John McCain gets an offer for a position.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  35. Nicole

    I cannot keep watching the clips because everyone will think I'm mentally unstable at work for crying so much.

    Thankyou Obama for being an example to all the young black men that do not have role models. You and your wife have made it just a little bit easier to raise black children.

    and CNN......so greatful that you are here to provide the new and not noise like Fox.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  36. Jeff of Peoria

    My guy didn't win but I thought CNN has done an incredible job LATELY of trying to stay in the middle and not be FOX and MSNBC. Both of those can just be terribly leaning each way.

    CNN had all the PUNDITS from both sides but the CNN folks stayed in the middle and just reported the news and let the pundits do their SPIN.
    Thanx. We need somewhere to go to JUST GET THE NEWS.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  37. Mick_R

    Long live Obama–I pray he has the strength and courage that it is needed to do wha he is about to attempt.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  38. Samantha

    I was at an election watch party. When we heard those words, the reaction was instantaneous and amazing. Cheering, people jumping up and down, lots of clapping, everyone hugging each other. Such an amazing vibe. The memory will be with me for a long time.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  39. Saha

    Even though I am here on a student Visa and I am not allowed to vote (as I a not a citizen of this country), I could not control my tears when I saw history happening in front of my eyes as it would be written in the history books. Seeing the emotion of the people when CNN declared Obama victorious just brings back the faith that was deprived since the past 8 years.

    I just pray that he turns out to be the best president ever and governs with intelligence.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  40. Arooj Syed

    CNN did an awesome job on coverage and yes THE moment brought tears to even my eyes and I'm a Pakistani American. I got a real perspective on racism only after moving from Pakistan to USA 8 years ago and after having taught American literature to high school students for 4 years now. Election night was emotional and BIG for people of all colors as it brought the change not just this country but for the whole world.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  41. Lawrence Walker

    I was fortunate to be in a room of about 60-70 Obama fans just outside Kerrville, Texas, in a county that voted 80% straight GOP ticket. We shouted out the count down as well and went nuts, a bunch of old folks, old white folks with a few blacks and Hispanics in the crowd. We all just went nuts, and it still gives me chills.

    In the tough times ahead, President Obama will be able to help bring us together with his persistent message of inclusiveness and the power of his speaking. The CNN countdown and, an hour later, the introduction of the waving Obama family and, as President-elect for the first time, Obama's masterful speech in Grant Park, will live on as one of the greatest, proudest moments in American history - even centuries from now - and we knew that and felt that the night of November 4th, 2008.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  42. Jeff

    Tears just came from my eyes watching those videos. WOW! What a great night, I will remeber it forever. Amazing...

    November 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  43. Maria

    Thank you CNN for sharing all of those incredible moments with us.
    It was AMAZING, absolutely amazing. With all the sad news we read everyday, let us remember, how we felt at that moment. Thanks again.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  44. Maritza, Jacksonville, FL

    Thank you CNN for your outstanding coverage of the election night. I watched CNN the entire night.

    What an amazing night! It still brings chills up my spine and tears to my eyes.

    May the unity this election brought stay with us and may we all be the agent of change we looked for in Obama.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  45. Tim

    Brings chills down my spine....never will forget that moment

    November 14, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  46. Dick

    I was a poll worker and it was midnight by the time we got the last voter in and buttoned up the polls. I had not seen this.

    Truly amazing. What really struck me while watching was that all of the hoopla about race- yet all the arms and screaming on the vid-bits were white.


    November 14, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  47. Anita

    I have been a fan of CNN for years, you are all wonderful news people. CNN did a wonderful job coverning the elections,which was not a surprise to me. Keep up the good work. I call myself your #1 fan.

    I can't wait too see your coverage on Obama Inaugural address.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  48. mrlgh

    Can you believe the relief of the world at that moment knowing that the Bush years are just about done?

    November 14, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  49. janet K

    I had on every television, and computer to CNN. My 15 yeadr old made it our main page because he said only rednecks and hillbillies watched AOL. It was the best thing he ever did. I am addicted. I was in tears, it was the most moving night of my 52 years on this earth. Never in this country did I expect to see this. Please no more Sarah Palin you are better than that. We are so tired of this ignorant woman. the GOP looked like a KKK rally that night. If john macain had any sense he would have seen that. Ms Palin is not capable of seeing anything, but Russia from her house.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  50. Matt B

    Simply the best.... Sitiing here with tears in my all over again. I have only a few "dates to remember" in my lifetime so far: Iran Hostage Release, Challenger Shuttle Disaster, Nelson Mandella's release, Berlin Wall Coming Down, 9/11..... This is one to tell to the grandchldren.

    Thanks CNN

    November 14, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
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