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Chesterbrook Precinct: Democratic volunteers say there's less energy this year

The mood in the air at the Chesterbrook polling place during the first hours of voting is very different from what t was a year ago, when Barack Obama won this McLean precinct and Virginia.

Phyllis Jacobson, 58, had never been politically active until she watched Obama speak last year. Now she considers herself a grassroots Democratic activist. She volunteered at this precinct one year ago today for the then-Illinois senator.

She was one of three Democrats volunteering outside the Chesterbrook polling place in McLean.

"When I did the Obama campaign, I think everyone was taking sample ballots, and there was just more electricity in the area," she said.

But this is a different crowd, she said. Many turned down sample ballots that she tried to hand out with candidates endorsed by the Democrats. She think it's because the people voting in the off-year election are more politically active and know more about who they want to vote for ahead of time in all the races than those who came to vote for Obama one year ago.

Meanwhile, the Democratic precinct captain said that the Democrats are more energized for Deeds than the press has reported.

"I think the rank-and-file Democrats certainly are [engaged]," said Lisa Transgrud, 58. "Maybe not the independents. I don't know. I think Creigh Deeds is a great candidate."

"I don't think we have anything to be ashamed of," she volunteered.

The Republicans are more energized and excited because they see victory in their grasps.

Ann Winsor, 69, wants to send a message to the president with big Republican victories.
"A lot of people here are military," she said, surveying the early crowd. "A lot of them are bureaucrats too, and they usually vote Democratic."

Republican activist Sheila Gildea, 79, jus got a new metal knee. Her doctor told her to take it easy. So she signed up for only two hours, from 6 to 8 a.m., to hand out sample ballots at the polling place. Her husband, a retired Naval officer, will volunteer from 4 to 6 p.m.

Wearing big black mittens and a big black coat, with her breath visible in the cool morning air, she tried to figure out how far 40 feet was from the polling site entrance - the distance that party activists must keep legally. A retired foot surgeon, she lives across the street from the assisted living home.

"I see light," she said, as the first morning light appeared just after 6 a.m.

But that might just as well be a metaphor for Republicans hoping to make inroads back in Northern Virginia.

By James Hohmann  |  November 3, 2009; 7:48 AM ET
Categories:  Election Day '09: Chesterbrook Precinct  
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