Chelsea, 7:00 p.m.
A little before 7 p.m., Matthew Modine was watching the TV screen at the Half King bar on 23rd Street in Manhattan, a few blocks from where he lives.
“I tell you if Obama loses and there’s a sense that there’s been some funny business, there’s going to be fucking riots,” said the 49-year old actor.
Mr. Modine has been paying close attention to this election. He traveled to both conventions with the Creative Coalition, the nonprofit political advocacy organization, of which he is a board member. He went to more parties, lunches, dinners, functions, what-have-you’s than he cares to remember. He watched Barack Obama speak at Invesco Field with a number of people who cried from start to finish.
Earlier that afternoon he had accompanied his 18-year-old daughter to a voting booth in the East Village. He said she doesn’t really get what the big deal is.
“It’s amazing how things have changed,” he said. “The other day she was doing her homework and the TV was on and she looked up and said, ‘Did you hear what he just said?’” The newscaster had just noted that Mr. Obama would be the first black president. That fact had apparently not struck her up to that point.
Greenwich Village, 7 p.m.
At the election night party at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery, on Greenwich and Leroy streets in the West Village, balloons were attached to the ceiling. If Barack Obama won, they would be released onto the floor. If he loses, they’d be left to slowly deflate.
Mr. Brown is British and can’t vote here. Still, he said, “if [Barack Obama] loses, the city will feel betrayed. People will be angry.”
“A man like [Obama] can be so inspiring. Win or lose, nothing will be the same tomorrow.”
Earlier in the evening, 40-something Columbia English professor Carol Peters, who was clad in all black, had stopped by. Ms. Peters had voted at 6:30 in the morning at a school on Spring Street in Soho, where she has been voting since 1982. “I feel part black anyway because I’m a New Yorker,” she said. “I have a lot of black friends. I feel honored to be alive right now. … I understand if by 7 [Obama] wins Virginia, then we’re home free. And if by 2 it’s still undecided, then we can expect anything. It almost seems too good to be true if he’s elected.”
The artist Cecily Brown stopped by wearing a brown Obama T-shirt and jeans tucked into black boots. “I am so nervous,” she said. “I am terrified it will get stolen somehow. In fact I’m going home right after this. I need to be watching it in private. I’m just stopping by to say hello to some friends and hang out. I have never felt this way about a candidate before.”
Artist Jonathan Horowitz’s installation takes up the entire gallery. In the main room, chairs are lined up in a circle—one side blue, one red. Two flat-screen televisions face either side of the red-blue divide: The red side is tuned to Fox News, while the blue is tuned to CNN. There are also several attention-grabbing images: one pair features Jamie Lynn Spears walking in a pink dress and says “Vote Obama”; the other is a photo of Snoop Dogg carrying Britney Spears and says “Vote McCain.” Then there’s the image that’s Katie Couric on top and Britney Spears’ vagina on the bottom. And lining the walls of the entire gallery are images of every president. At the very end, a picture of Mr. Obama is lying on the ground. If he wins, it will be hung up on the wall with those of the other presidents. If not, it will stay on the ground.
Mr. Horowitz, who is 41 and lives on the Lower East Side, told us that the image of Ms. Couric and Ms. Spears is called CBS Evening News/www.britneycrotchshot.org. “For Katie Couric’s inaugural broadcast, there was a decision made that her legs would be part of the broadcast,” said Mr. Horowitz. “So I just paired that with Britney.”
Greenwich Village, 8 p.m.
At a West Village party thrown by former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff’s chief of staff, Angela Sun, a Barack Obama tree made of tinsel and Mr. Obama lollipops is the grand prize. “I made the tree but I didn’t make the lollipops—I had them made,” said Ms. Sun.
Her boyfriend, Tom Brown, walked in and introduced himself; Ms. Sun informed us that Mr. Brown is a Republican. A real Republican?
“Yes, he’s a real Republican,” she answered.
For his part, Mr. Brown wasn’t very forthcoming about what he did for a living. “Nothing much,” he said. “Well, investment management. And real estate management.” (A Republican in investment management probably isn’t the most popular character in town these days, we suppose.)
The television sound in Ms. Sun’s apartment is off. “I don’t know what’s going on—I’ve been just helping out with everything,” said consultant Hattie Elliot, who lives in the West Village. “I talked to my cleaning lady today and she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s a good sign that his grandmother died.’ I’ve been optimistimic all day because of that.”
Constantine, a British employee of Mr. Bloomberg’s, didn’t know which color pen to pick for the election poll that Ms. Sun was running. “Red and blue mean completely different things here,” he said.
Soho, 8 p.m.
A cheer went up at 8:15 p.m. at the party for Huffington Post humor site 23/6, as MSNBC called Pennsylvania for Senator Obama. Looking over at Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper projected on another wall, a guest was overheard asking, “Where are the holograms?”
Another poured his beer from a blue 23/6-branded cup into a simple plastic one because, he says, the 23/6 cups smell like an old man. A reporter was obliged to smell it for himself and confirm: the cups did smell rancid.
Off in the “quiet room,” where bloggers were invited to partake in the Huffington Post’s intermittent Wifi and blog the event in real time, hugs were exchanged.
“I feel absolutely confident that Obama will win,” said Penelope Bunn, a 51-year-old journalist. “I travel abroad and the whole world wants this.” Asked if she felt at all fatigued by the long campaign, Ms.
Ms. Bunn fairly beamed, “It seems like he just got started yesterday!” She added, “McCain’s not a bad guy. It’s just not his time.”
— Matt Haber
Harlem, 8:31 p.m.
As the jumbotron on 125th Street showed CNN announcing that Barack Obama is leading in Florida, the crowd here cheered.
But 27-year-old arts administrator Daisy Rosario of Harlem pressed a blue Obama poster over her mouth and tried not to cry.
“The last eight years have been awful,” she said. “On September 11, I was in the first tower that got hit. Since then,” she went on, referring to the Bush years, “it’s been a long, sad journey.”
She added, “I just want it to be over.”
West Midtown, 9 p.m.
Before they started “loading people in” to Comedy Central’s “Indecision 2008” special with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, 200 people were lined up outside. Network folks were passing out water and popcorn. The folks in line, Siobhan McCarthy, 25, and Valerie Adabbonizio, 25, had set up shop at 2:45 in the afternoon. Ms. McCarthy and her sister, Fiona, 23, who was there too, went to the same high school as Mr. Colbert’s kids, Montclair Kimberley Academy.Ms. Adabbonizio is also from the Garden State. Their friend Asher Kaboph, 24, is a grad student at MIT.
To occupy themselves, they’d brought knitting and a radio, which blared NPR. They were also jotting down results as they were called in an issue of The Economist.
Ms. McCarthy the elder and Ms. Adabbonizio wore silver New Years hats they found in their basement. They’d been waiting for this day for a long time—they’d ordered tickets back during the first primary. They were optimistic that the big surprise tonight would be some live animals. They’d seen a carriage pull up earlier and unload some donkeys.
Another fan, Mira Weisenthal, 24, from Astoria, said she just got the ticket tonight through a friend. “I had no election party plans but then when I voted this morning there was real electricity in the air and I decided to do something social,” she said. She came straight from a dentist appointment with her friend Allisa Boulette, 21, who lives in Enfiled, CT. Ms. Boulette ordered her tickets back in April.
“It’s the greatest place to be on election night because Jon Stewart together with Stephen Colbert is something that you never see,” she said. As she entered the studio, she checked her iPhone for results on mobile CNN and MSNBC.
A little after 9:30 p.m., Susan Sarandon walked in with husband Tim Robbins and the kids.