Virginia came through again for Obama

By Wayne Dawkins

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – At 6:10 a.m. I arrived at polling place Grove Baptist Church and at least 150 people formed an S-shaped line around the parking lot and into the front door. The line crawled slowly, yet orderly. In the 40-degree chill, I studied the faces of voters. The expressions were patient, and resolute. It was imperative that Barack Obama was returned to the White House.

Through the day there was evidence that Obama would win a close election. Turnout was high in South Hampton Roads, the Norfolk/Portsmouth/Virginia Beach/Chesapeake/Suffolk side of harbor that has two thirds of the 1.6 million people in this metro area. At a polling station in Norfolk, reported The Virginian-Pilot, long lines of people waited to vote from 6 a.m. and it wasn’t until 11 a.m. until the door could be closed and voters on modest lines could enjoy the warmth.

By evening throughout the Virginia “crescent,” the urban corridor that begins in the Washington-area suburbs, curves south through capital city Richmond and finishes here at the North Carolina border, crowds swelled, so much so at 7:30 p.m. CBS News announced that state officials suspended reporting results because at least 100,000 voters were still on lines after the polls closed. The rules were if voters were on line at the 7 p.m. closing time they were eligible to vote.

On the clear, chilly evening there was little evidence that people were going to leave; they had jobs to do.

Team Obama never wavered. They carried battleground state Virginia again, the second time the Southern state went blue after 40 years of reliable Republican domination in presidential elections from 1968-2008. Economically, Virginia is doing great compared to the rest of the nation. Unemployment is 5.9 percent in the commonwealth compared to 7.9 percent nationally.

Yes, there’s the threat of massive military job losses here because Congress chose to vote for across-the-board cuts. Now that Obama has re-upped for four more years with the help of voters, the legislators can back away from the fiscal cliff and work with the president to avert disaster.

That said, the GOP Congressional majority that focused on running one man, Obama, out of office even it meant crippling 150 million American workers now need to recognize. Obama’s back and he has leverage. A 303-206 win over Mitt Romney in the Electoral College and a 50-49 percent win in the popular vote are solid on both counts.

Congress needs to cooperate with the president or, face voter’s wrath at midterm in 2014. As for the president, Obama has two years to finish his work, and then Congress – and voters too – will tune him out as they prepare for the 2016 presidential hopefuls.

It’s gratifying that the big crowds came out to vote in Virginia. There was scary talk that the enthusiasm for Obama waned; he wasn’t the novel exotic thing of 2008. Obama was the sober commander slogging through economic muck. His adversary Romney was the gleaming salesman. The challenger’s rap was appealing to a lot of people. It went like this, Obama tried earnestly, said Romney, but he did not have his business skill to revive the slowly recovering economy.

Fortunately, enough voters did not buy Romney’s flawed sales job, flawed because he kept changing his stories, and on other key issues such as foreign policy and the military Romney revealed he was not well informed.

Obama has proven that he is calm in the face of crises and tough when it matters.

I’ll always remember his Cheshire cat smile to the Washington intelligentsia shortly after he sent Seal Team 6 to Pakistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden, or when he faced natural disasters [BP oil in the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast] and helped America heal.

Apparently enough voters remembered too.

The writer is a contributor to e-book “HaterNation: How Incivility & Racism are Dividing Us,” edited by Neil Foote and available at