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. Lucy

    What a great night!!! I was educated to the issues on CNN during the election. I was kept up to date with the weekly changes. I am now addicted to CNN. I still cry when I relieve the moment and see the screen change to Obama – President elect. Thank you CNN for giving a perspective from all sides. It was so good to see that all of America and the world is proud of our decision. We have taken steps forward to an all-inclusive America.

    I have never cheered, cried or laughed this much on New Year's eve. I will remember that night for the rest of my life.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Dave

    CNN's coverage was fabulous. I have to admit though, that I kept switching to Fox News because I wanted to see them suffer. I'm not sadistic normally but after the pain we've been through under Bush, I wanted to see them suffer a little bit. But CNN had my eyes for 90% of the time!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  3. Andrea J

    in one of the videos you can hear people yelling, Oh my God, Oh my God!!! That sums up how i felt that night. Tears, excitement, and all!

    Wow! That was a great night. I feel like I'll be celebrating for the rest of the year if not longer!

    November 14, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  4. Vilbert Belizaire

    and I dont know if anyone realized that MC Cain crowd didnt represent the actual America we are living in...Look at the Crowd at the park in Chicago, Diverse, Black and White Hugging, Young and Old embracing,Even Babies have smile in their face.....One thing need to change, we need to drop all the Labels such as African American, Cuban American , let just call ourself American .

    November 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  5. Rachel

    I have watched CNN since Desert Storm back when Papa Bush was at the helm. Why I changed and watched Fox for awhile I'll never know but it didn't take long with the McCain/Palin campaign to listen to all the hate and venom and Sean Hannity going so radical with a lot of his mis-information. The biggest was that Obama was a Muslim and the continual harping about Ayers. It didn't take me long to get back to CNN and enjoy the election night and the flashes of pictures of the victory. Just don't invite Palin back pleeeeeeze! No one yelling on your show was a welcome and enjoyable watch. Good journalism, stories, and a well rounded unbiased scoops. Thanks CNN.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  6. Ernestine Burtley

    The entire election was electrified....remember we do not see Obama as a god but as one who can lead this generation and we pray that he will listen as God leads him

    Great coverage CNN.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  7. Vilbert Belizaire

    I remember that day I was in Shanghai.in my hotel room,I cancel my plan for the day just to watch CNN, I Remembered how my heart was beaten when I saw Mc Cain leading, then When CNN Predict that Obama is the winner I call all the Room Service ladies and tell them come come and come see History in the making althought they didnt understand English they sat there and watch Obama give the Speech.Then As I was walking out in the Street a Chinese yelled OBAMA, Because I was wearing an American Flag.and I replied YES WE CAN....I will always remember that is Like 9-11 Still remember what I was doing...

    November 14, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  8. D. Beverly

    When I was leaving work Obama had 3 electorial votes, so I thought it was early and the rest of the country's polls hadn't close yet. I got home about 10:30 pm turned on CNN, fed the cat and took off my shoes. By the Obama was at 268 electorial votes, I called my mom in Jamacia , Queens and woke her up and we watched together at 11pm when he was declared the winner.
    My mom is 76 yrs. old was born and grew up during the Great Depression. Both sets of grandparents have passed on as well as my dad. I asked her did she ever think she would be here when a person of color would be elected President of th USA. Never, she said. Now your cousins children and your nieces have no excuse to achieve and achieve big time.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Leigh Ann

    Watching this got me choked up all over again. What a historic moment! I am so proud to say that I participated in and celebrated this moment in my life.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  10. Augusto

    Thank you CNN. That night was one the best moments of my life

    November 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  11. Beu

    I'm In Canada, and on election night we all stayed at work an extra hour till past 12 midnight just so we wouldnt miss one minute of Obamas victory speech, When we stepped outside it was total chaos, people were honking, people were in balconies popping champane and screaming. Then we decided....lets go find some maccain/pain fan to jeer....there was none, so we went back to celebrating.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  12. Kevin

    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. I knew CNN could play a major role in the election and they did.

    I also loved it when less than 20% of the popular vote was in and CNN declared him the next president of the United States.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  13. Charles in NYC

    I am only 30 and honestly never thought I would see the day in my lifetime. The unbiased coverage of CNN was phenomenal, to say the least. There wasn't a dry eye in my home on Nov 4 (male and female). Thanks for allowing us all that experience.

    Now, just please STOP giving airtime to the sideshow called Sarah Palin. I would much rather take my little cousins to see Barnum & Bailey when they come to town.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  14. CJ Griffin

    Great indeed, I recall that moment watching from home and reliving it never gets old, especailly with the CNN election night results recorded on my dvr. I, like many of his supporters felt such great victory from all our hard work and small donations that truly exemplified the promise of america, if you work hard and work together there is no limit to what can be accomplished even in the political reign. To see such diverse groups of americans come together to elect Barack is truly inspiring and to relive that moment is uplifting to a heavenly degree.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  15. Ms. Virginia

    I too am now hooked on CNN. I watched every night soon as I got home from work until 11:00, while I cooked dinner, folded clothes, washed dishes, etc. On election night I was glued to the sofar. When the countdown started I was holding my breath, and when the breaking news flashed my husband and I jumped up and down and hugged and kissed like it was New Years Eve. Our kids called from college, also relatives started calling from all over the state. I will never forget that night as long as I live! Thank you CNN.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  16. Susan in TX

    Oh the memories! I almost lost my voice that night, I was screaming so hard, in my living room with my 25 year old son who was screaming too. We were both elated. A wonderful night indeed! Thanks for sharing.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  17. JBS

    My family and I were in Atlanta, GA, staying at the downtown Hyatt. The Georgia Democratic Party was having their 'watching party' in the Hotel that night. We were in our room, our two kids asleep, when THE NEWS hit. It was euphoric. The entire hotel erupted (22+ floors all open into the center of the hotel and look down to the party) people were running around the floors, horns were honking outside. As my wife and I are white and our children are black, it was amazing. The next day I looked at them and told them, for the first time really meaning it, that they, as black americans, could do anything, even become president. I am still so elated and hunt for news about the transition every day.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  18. Paula

    My heart hurt so much for what our country is about to experience with the new ones coming in. It is not about anyone being black, purple, greeen or what ever color. It is about who they follow and what they do in that following! CNN, you all most of the rest of the media got this one elected, so in the future I hope you are just as happy as you are now!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Dave

    Hey there: Anderson, David, Rolland and to you my favorite Gloria Burgers. you guys did a fantastic job on election night. wow it felt like new years night. Great Job!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Brendolyn

    I was in New York City for the first time election night and happened into Times Square. The air was electric with election fever. I've never been a part of such excitement and I'll never forget it. After Barack Obama was declared the winner and I made it back to my hotel room, I turned on CNN and stayed glued to the TV the remainder of the night. I'm from CA and it was so cool to realize that my state was the one who had put him over the top while I sat in NYC watching it happen. (Yes, I had mailed in my ballot the week before). This is one momentous occasion that will stay in my memory bank forever. Thanks for helping me relive it.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  21. neil

    CNN, thanks for showing both sides....

    November 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  22. ted

    My wife and I had tears running down our face. We knew it was coming but the scene in Hyde Park was too overwelming for us to control our emotions. Thanks for the great coverage. Keep up the great work.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm |

    I must admit I teared up at the moment Obama was declared the winner. My wife and I had read both of Obama's books long before he announced his candidacy and we knew he was something special. Some of our tears was from the notion of knowing that we will no longer have to deal with the Bush/Cheney regime. However, we were more grateful because we have two biracial grandsons (Age 2 and 4) and we realized they may not have to fight the fights that Obama and others fought because they are different from the mainstream. God Bless Obama.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  24. alekshy

    Each one of those videos gives me the same, exact feeling in my heart. It's the same feeling I got on Election Day. It's crazy how videos can do that. That was a perfect moment that I will never forget.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  25. Stacy Hobson

    I still can not stop crying! Everytime I see that moment, A picture of watch a video of the moment, I just cry! I couldn't help but say, "MY GOD!"

    November 14, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  26. Liz

    I was at Grant Park, and yes, that was just the most amazing moment! And thank you CNN for not calling the race too early. I think we "knew" Obama would win once they called Pennsylvania. Then, of course, Ohio went, and Virginia too. I think no one wanted to get their hopes up too high, but the mood was festive. And sure, the math made it pretty obvious Obama would win, but who was really sure of how many delegates CA had, when there was so much going on in Grant Park? So everyone thought CNN would just be projecting California to Obama, and everyone was – joyfully – caught unaware that THE projection was coming. I didn't even have my video camera on! And then, when CNN did project Obama as the next POTUS, I completely lost it, like everyone else around me. We're talking the bad cry, baby! But tears of joy and catharsis, and it was a great shared experience. Never will forget it!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  27. Jake

    It was a remarkable momment in history. Thank you CNN for bringing that to us. My children, 2 of whom are very young. They may not understand what it all means but they felt the emotion of the momment. You did not have to be black to feel how special this is. Now if only civil rights can be unbiased and reconized in all areas of life. This was an enormous step but there is still much to be overcome. "Yes, We Can !"

    November 14, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  28. adisa


    Got ur shot from the large screen at Grant Park that night, guess what I will be doing with all those pictures?

    You, I mean we all made history that night.

    Kudos to Wolf, David Gergen, Roland Martin, Amy, Donna Brazille, etc.

    Now what is left to watch on tv?

    November 14, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  29. Niecy

    I just couldn't get enough of Wolfe Blitzer and Roland Martin....love 'em. I have been glued to CNN since July. Amazing Election night. Still get the chills from the CNN Breaking News "Barack Obama Elected President." I will never forget it. I'm still glued to CNN from Post Election, however, please stop giving Sarah Palin airtime. She is now a "has been." Let's move on to other news.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  30. Patti

    Will there ever come a time when watching this event doesn't bring tears to my eyes! I am so proud of my vote and this election! Republican who pulled her head out of the sand! And voted for OBAMA!!!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  31. clysly desales

    I hugged and kissed everyone in the house even my old and stubborn, mccain/hillary supporting parents. this was history in the making and will forever be etched in my memory as a very happy event! Go Obama Biden 2008 and let's fix America! The greatest country in the world!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  32. Mokele Mbembe

    I got cable TV for the first time only months before the election, so it's great I was able to get the whole cable news experience at this incredible time in history.

    November 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  33. Miche11e

    I channel skipped to see what other networks were showing but I kept coming back to CNN. I thought highly of everyone but I was most impressed with the genuinely encompassing reflections shared by Gergen and Castellanos.

    Excellent coverage, CNN!

    November 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  34. PBD

    What a night it was. We were glued to CNN too at our house. Except for 10 minutes when we went over to FOX and took amusement in seeing them all dour and glum as if they were at a funeral.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  35. Martina in SF

    The television was on CNN all night....except for 20 brief minutes when I needed some comic relief (Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert). My boyfriend was not happy about the lack of information on Comedy Central and it was Jon Stewart, not CNN that broke the news upon closing of the CA polls. Thanks for being there even though I was not!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  36. NYbywayofTexas

    By far the most watched and trusted of all the news channels. I could not believe it . Before I celebrated, I had to hear from a trustworthy source... CNN you were and are that source. When I heard it clearly the second time, my wife and I fell to our knees and prayed. We prayed for President-Elect Obama, President Bush and the McCain/Palin ticket. We prayed for the answered prayer of Obama/Biden. I am sure we were among the chorus of prayers that went forth that night and even now. Thank you that you allowed us the priviledge of seeing the first African American elected POTUS. God bless you CNN.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  37. Ian Garvey

    This is great, but the real moment everyone knew our next prez was when CNN called Ohio for Obama.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  38. Katie in Normal, IL

    It brings tears to my eyes all over again! I had 30+ people packed in my two-bedroom apartment and we counted down and literally started screaming when we saw Wolf announce it... what a beautiful night.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  39. Lisa Memphis, TN

    Truly a great moment in American history! I actually missed the count down, I feel asleep had been working 16 (as a nurse/RN) over the weekend/Monday (2 jobs) to pay for all the our needs (gas, food, utilities, insurance, house note, helping my elderly mother, daughter going to college next year) but my kids came up stairs excited and woke me up with the great news, we toasted with sparkling grape juice.

    Still one of the best moments of my life, and blessed to have 2 jobs to work at to provide for my family during this difficult time:)

    November 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  40. eric

    gotta admit CNN was much better than MSNBC at 11:00pm...they really blew it going over all the states, etc....just let it be!!!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  41. Kim, Baltimore, MD

    My husband picked on me for over a week because I went from watching nothing but NFL Total Access to CNN. I'm hooked. You guys did an excellent, superbolous job!!! These clips are awesome. I've sent the link to just about everyone I know with an email address. CNN...objective, knowledgeable, "no-biase", no-bull". No one wants to live in the dark or in fairytale land. Most Americans want the truth...whatever it is. And CNN delivered. On both candidates and both campaigns...you gave us the truth. THANK YOU!!!

    And your analysts are the best in the WORLD! AC, you are hot! Nothing like a smart guy in nice suit. Just like our president! David Gergen...awesome! Roland Martin...sharp as always!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  42. Kim Collins

    What a great feeling to be soooo proud to be an American and part of something so amazing and uplifting. I'm 29 years old and this is the first time in my life that I've ever felt that way.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  43. Zameen Yousaf

    As a right wing republican nut I must admit CNN is the best (due to the its team of analysts).

    November 14, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  44. Dave - Phoenix AZ

    I was one of those watching CNN and counting down the seconds until the polls closed in Califirnia. I called my father two minutes before the polls closed because I wanted to be on the phone with him when the race was called.

    I told my father at the time that McCain's campaign had exactly 2 minutes of life left in it......

    November 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  45. Amanda

    Watching those clips brought tears to my eyes again. I am so moved by the power that the people truly have in this country. How fortunate we are to be able to have someone care about us as if we are family.

    CNN, by far, had the very best coverage f the election. I only hope they continue to treat our new president as well as they have.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  46. Amanda Handy

    Mr. Clark, the Democratics cannot possibly mess things up as much as the Republicans have. President Obama has his hands full with the mess that has been left but I have full confidence in him that he and his team will be able to begin to turn this around.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  47. Chris Cornicello

    This election was not about Obama or McCain. It was about distancing ourselves from Bush. Any American who travels outside of the US, knows that were judged first by our President, then who we are.

    This was a step away from the failed policy's that have made friend and foe alike shun the USA. During the time Bush has been President it has given Americans a chance to look back at our glorious history and say this guy isn't it! This guy doesn't cut it! We wanted our JFK, Abraham Lincoln, or best of all George Washington in office. This guy doesn't represent them.

    I teared up during CNN's announcement. I teared up because I felt like Americans finally wanted their country back.

    Thank you CNN for presenting some of the best coverage on one of our Nations best moments. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  48. franz dibbler

    Watching these clips brought tears to my eyes. I mainly watched the returns on Fox figuring they would spin it towards the republicans and basking in schadenfreude!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  49. Michelle

    Oh sheesh, of course we counted down; at 11 PM we'd done the math and had spent a full hour watching CNN dance around the obvious! I was in my living room nursing a cold, with my husband next to me and my best friend on the phone, and I counted too. And then I screamed and shouted so loud my voice didn't work for the rest of the week. Worth it!

    The New Year's Eve comparison occurred to me too, but NYE is always an enormous letdown. Not so November 4. I will never forget it.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  50. Mauricio Ramirez

    At that moment I was at home with my wife. When I saw "CNN Projection- Obama elected President" I yelled at the top of my lungs, "he won!, he won!...Obama won!!!" It was like a meteor headed for Earth and it missed us. It did indeed feel like New Year's. I get emotional and teary eyed just watching that clip.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
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