From NBC's Luke Russert
Bloomington -- I got on the ground in the Hoosier state yesterday. Since I set foot on the Indiana University campus, I have witnessed political activism from students. Like other college campuses I've visited, the Obama campaign has organized Obama supporters and gotten them to the polls. Many of the students that I have spoken to voted for Obama and also volunteered for him in some respect.
The dedication of Obama supporters has been a really interesting thing to watch. I spoke to one volunteer who personally knocked on the doors of an entire dorm this morning to remind kids to get to the polls when they opened at 6 a.m. I was told hundreds of young voters showed up early and then went back to bed. Due to this, there were surprisingly short lines during the lunch hour when we visited the polling precincts.
Another interesting facet of this election is the work done by "Rock the Vote" to keep the people waiting in line entertained. The group laid out magazines for people to read while waiting, and even provided a comedian who would tell jokes to those standing in line. I also saw "Joe the Accordion Player" who played songs for those waiting in line at a Bloomington polling place.
The polls close here at 6 p.m. (like much of the state). But all eyes will be on Indiana at 7 p.m., because Lake County, located in the northwest part of the state (Central Time), will close its precints. Lake County is heavily Democratic and could very well put Obama over the top. And if Indiana is called for Obama early on, it will signal a long night for the McCain campaign. The state hasn't voted Democratic since 1964 and Bush won here in 2004 by over 20 points. In fact, in 2000, it was the first state painted red on the national map.
An Obama victory in Indiana could signal other wins in traditional red states like Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. However if Indiana is called for McCain early on, we could be in for a long and close election night because it will signal that a lot of the these "new battlegrounds" may just be reverting back to their old form.
For Indiana political junkies out there, pay attention to the returns from Hamilton, Howard, and Marion Counties. Hamilton is a suburb of Indianapolis that backed Bush pretty solidly in 2004; if Obama can get into that traditional Republican vote, he could pull ahead. Howard County is one of the "car counties," home to many GM and Chrysler workers that have been hurting in the past four years. Marion County is home to Indianapolis and the previously mentioned Lake County, where Obama will try to outperform John Kerry's margins in 2004.
This will be an interesting race in Indiana and all throughout our great land. Tune in to NBC and MSNBC all night! Rock on!