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Optimism Among Voters in Bush Country

By Karl Vick
HOUSTON -- In the Tanglewood section of Houston, a lush subdivision where President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara live when they're not in Kennebunkport, loyal Republicans walked into polling places this morning carrying books, and minutes later carried them out, unread.

"I thought I was going to have to start it," said Sally Matthews, 52, looking down at the novel that her husband, a money manager, had given her to pass the time waiting in a line that turned out not to exist. "I was pleasantly surprised."

A pessimist might find significance in the title she chose: "What Was Lost." But there weren't many pessimists at Precinct 303 Tuesday morning. The long waits did not materialize largely because 55 percent of the precinct's 3200 registered voters had already cast their ballots in early voting, spread over 12 days. There were long lines at the morning rush, but late morning voters had leisure to reflect on an election that, finally, was in their hands.

"Hopeful," said Linda Debrovner, a retiree and community volunteer. "Brave hope, with some trepidation.

"The media," she said pointedly, "let us know what to think."

"Completely agree," said Vince Elliott, 44, a financial adviser standing tall in a starched white shirt. "I think it's going to come down to one or two states. I think the media wants us to think it's over, and if conservatives are discouraged from coming out and voting it might be."

But he didn't think it was. "If you look at Kerry polling 14 points up two days before voting, we should win this election," he said. "Bottom line is: optimistic."

Fab Wallace, 70, wore a brass belt buckle over a smart sweater, and a flinty smile.

"It was not Obama," Wallace said when asked how she voted. "John McCain and Sarah Palin," she said. The Alaska governor has a following here, judging by the color of many of the McCain/Palin lawn signs stippling Tanglewood medians: pink.

But this is Bush country first. The former president lives not 15 blocks away.

"You know there is a lot of loyalty to George Bush, both of them, because they're Texans. And we see President Bush's father with Barbara a lot, so there's a personal connection. We feel like we know them. It seems like every couple of months you see them, at the drug store, or Blockbuster, or eating out, or at church." She's Episcopalian.

And yet discontent is heard even here, in a precinct where the vote runs over 80 percent GOP.

"I think they're more protective of the father than they are of W. right now," said Janice Weiss, a poll judge and president of the Galleria Democrats. "I talk with Republicans who say, 'Oh, my God.' They actually say, 'What a disaster.' They will admit that. "

David Howell, the Republican poll judge, said Democrats are at least showing their faces in Tanglewood. Some years he cannot find a Democrat to serve as alternate judge. The party even fielded a full slate of candidates for "down-ballot" races this year, something new.

"But ultimately Obama is about youth and African Americans," Weiss said. "And we don't have minorities here."

Howell, the Republican poll judge, agreed. "Well, we don't have minorities. We do have some youth. But there's a lot of gray. It's a mature precinct."

In more ways than age. Voters emerged from the polls with a decidedly measured view, both of the day, and their role in it.

"I feel excited," said Matthews. "I'm glad I could take part in this. Have a voice."

"Doesn't look good," said Mike Halverson, a retired crude oil broker, who'd brought Patricia Cornwell's "The Front" to read while waiting, and voted McCain. "Be interesting to see once they start counting."

By Washington Post editors  |  November 4, 2008; 12:48 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , B_Blog , The Voters  
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Next: Obama Visits Indiana, Hoping for a Win


It really Bites, that a small handful of States, can mess it all up for Significant Ones-like Texas!


Don't think TEXAS is significant?

Well Now!

Take a good look at ANY Map of the US! What do you See?!

There it Is! TEXAS!

Carrying the entire Burden of the US on it's BACK! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 4, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

It is awesome that some hard core republicans are tired of... REPUBLICANS!!!

Posted by: macebruce | November 4, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Was some early election results leaked accidently by diebold?

Did Huckabee vote for Obama?

Posted by: pastor123 | November 4, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that womens rights - which the democrats have championed and which the republicans have fought against - don't weigh on the minds of southern women.

If there is to be a real womens movement, the northern ladies are going to need to persuade their southern sisters that moral progressives (like obama) care about more than 'just' peace, prosperity, health care, education, energy and the environment.

Yeah, black people know all too painfully the price that is paid when the government chooses to be immoral and look the other way. And young people know that they are inheriting a mess, financially and environmentally. You'd think there'd be a consciousness among southern women about... something. Peace? Prosperity? Equal pay? You northern ladies are smart enough to figure out a winning strategy- are you committed enough to execute it?

Posted by: jrob822 | November 4, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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