It will be hours before polling data gives us a quantitative picture of what the hell this day all means. A few anecdotal observations in the mean time…
In Minneapolis’s Loring Park neighborhood, the coveted 18-to-24 crowd appeared to be what the pollsters call “energized.” An army of shaggy-haired boys and bespectacled dames swarmed Oak Grove towers armed with their voter registration forms. The queue looked less like a solemn ode to civic duty and more like a line you might see at the door to a Death Cab concert.
"At least it's not raining," mused a twisty-mustachioed guy in flannel.
"Or snowing," added his sidekick.
Over at the precinct 7-8—a mere two blocks away at Emerson Spanish Immersion School near the corner of 15th St. and La Salle—the scene was more diverse. At around noon, the line winded for three solid blocks. In it, clusters of elderly folk chitchatted, a bit about the weather, but mostly about the long lines (“I’ve never seen anything like this!” “Me neither.”) Gay couples shifted their feet, not impatiently. Yuppies, many no doubt on lunch break, cast frequent glances at their wristwatches. Baffled first-time voters, some of whose faces I swear to you were still acne-riddled, looked around for guidance. Poll volunteers directed them to the proper tables inside the rickety little gymnasium.
The overall vibe was jovial and, dare I say, hopeful… which is to say it lacked the usual on-edge bitchiness you typically encounter in too-long lines and too-close quarters. One moment in particular summed it up.
Lacking a hard flat surface to write on, a black woman in her mid-twenties struggled to fill out her registration form against her thigh. The pen kept punching through the paper. A Betty White lookalike next in line took notice and offered a courteous solution— the remainder of the questionnaire was completed pressed against her straightened back.