8:25 A.M. on November 7th, 2012 at Atlantic Ave. and Flatbush Ave.
The morning after the election, Brooklyn is grey and cold. The streets have become wind tunnels and a woman waiting at the bus stop glances nervously at the sky. Obama has won and the world looks the same.
At the Starbucks in the LIRR station at Atlantic and Flatbush a group of teenagers debate whether school may be canceled tomorrow due to the approaching storm (the consensus: it won’t). A man in his late thirties with a black quilted jacket and a neatly trimmed beard leans on the banister, half-heartedly watching the sign for arriving trains. Most of his attention is devoted to a New York Times, where he’s reading “On Fox News, a Mistrust of Pro-Obama Numbers Lasts Late Into the Night” and nodding every so often in agreement.
It’s impossible to know whether the scurrying commuters are listening to political podcasts on last night’s results. But they certainly aren’t discussing the results with each other. Throughout the station there is more talk of the imminent nor’easter than of the election. A man sprawled against the wall outside the station’s Starbucks calls out that the rain is God’s punishment. For what, he doesn’t specify.
In front of the Barclays Center a limo pulls up and Donald Trump steps out, preceded by several handlers. He strides purposefully into the complex as though there is a crowd watching. There isn’t. One of the handlers, a native New Yorker named Eddie who wears a suit that fits less well than Mr. Trump’s, waits outside the limo. Did he watch the election returns last night? He did. And Eddie’s thoughts? He agrees with Mr. Trump, for as long as Mr. Trump chooses to employ him.
Around the corner at Blue Sky Bakery on Fifth, there is slightly more discussion of the election. A brunette with red lipstick applauds Washington state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use. The barista tells another customer that it was a long night, with a grin that on any other morning would suggest something far more exciting than several hours of watching Anderson Cooper point at a map of the United States.
The man in a camel coat who wants a pumpkin walnut muffin was impressed with Romney’s concession speech. “He seemed sad. It was his first sincere moment in the last decade.” The barista agrees, “I know. Suddenly I wondered, there’s something in there after all?” But their talk quickly switches to the storm on the way. Everyone seems concerned about more water arriving so soon after Sandy.
Back at the entrance to the Atlantic-Barclays subway station, a man tries to give away newspapers with “OBAMA” splashed across the headline. The commuters side-step him. They know Obama has won and a storm is coming.
-Madeline K.B. Ross
The Night Before
People began to trickle into the Galapagos Art Centre in Dumbo before 7 o’clock, and by 9 p.m. the center, lit with neon red and orange hues, was packed. Galapagos had reopened for the election, after Hurricane Sandy forced it shut last week.
The crowd was decidedly Democratic. Cheers rang out each time President Obama was declared the winner of another state, or a Democrat won a Senate seat. The loudest cheers before Obama’s win came when Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
At 11 p.m., when many expected the mid-western swing states to be called, the image of NBC’s Brian Williams froze on the big screen.
The audience sighed, booed, and drank.
The center relied on a Verizon mobile connection to stream live election coverage. The stream was constantly crashing because customers were using the same network on their phones.
Amidst all the cheering Democrats were a couple Romney supporters.
“I voted for Romney and I couldn’t reveal that to anyone for fear of being lynched” said Melanie Greene, 35, a freelance photographer from New York. “It feels like a crime to be a Republican in New York.” Greene was not alone in her disappointment. “I trust a Republican with the nation’s finances. I don’t want higher taxes,” said Rita Rose, 33, from Prospect Heights.
But at Galapagos, not many shared that view.
“This is not the same Romney who was Governor when I lived in Massachusetts,” said Anthony Medeiros, 23, of Sunset Park, who works for a non-profit organization.
The feed froze and people appeared anxious and pensive. “I still don’t know. Who knows what might eventually happen,” said Caitlin Gunther, 27, a lawyer from Cobble Hill.
When NBC’s Brian Williams reappeared on the screen, the crowd fell silent, only to roar in celebration when Williams announced that the President had taken Ohio. The crowd was so loud that it drowned out the announcement that with Ohio Obama had won the day.
- Anirvan Ghosh and Jonathan Wiener