Hope in McCainville Early
The crowd is still small -- maybe 20 or 30, wrapped in blue and gold McCain-Palin signs, plastered with 'Joe the Plumber' stickers, waving American flags.
But clustered around a small projection screen inside the McCain headquarters in the corner of a Doral strip mall, watching the earliest returns (on MSNBC.com, for whatever reason), they're loud as hell.
A graphic flashes: "Virginia, 56 percent McCain, 43 percent Obama." Screams reverberate off the concrete walls.
Another: "Georgia, 69 percent McCain, 30 percent Obama." Between the shouts of joy, a woman in a blue trench coat and McCain shirt grabs an older man in a Vanderbilt T-shirt and says with wide eyes, "We're doing really well, aren't we?"
The young volunteer staffing the press check-in table grabs Riptide by the arm and heads outside to escape the noise and explain the good vibes.
"I don't think any of us has any idea what's going to happen tonight, but yeah, we're confident," says Raquel Hernandez, a short 27-year-old from Miami Lakes. "I think the race was a lot closer all along than anyone was saying."
Hernandez has volunteered with the local McCain office since they opened up shop in Doral early this year. On door-to-door canvassing trips, Hernandez says, she saw voters responding to the McCain campaign's pitch on the economy and national security.
"The fact that he's a war hero seemed very important to voters I spoke with," Hernandez says.
McCain backers are beginning to stream past Hernandez and into the campaign headquarters, where dozens of volunteers are still manning phones and trying to get the very last voters out before polls close in a few minutes.
Hernandez shakes her head and says, "No one knows what's going to happen in Florida, that's for sure. I don't think we're going to know tonight. It's going to be 2000 all over again."
-- Tim Elfrink