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Gary Younge


Voters wait in line at a polling station in Chicago on Tuesday. Photograph: Nam Y Huh/AP
Obama's hometown of Chicago confident in his chances

At the President's Lounge bar on Chicago's southside on Monday night all the talk was about 'the wait'. Harold Davis tried to vote early a few days before but after two hours he had to go to work. Z, the barmaid, said she didn't care how long the lines were she would not leave until the deed was done. Her friend, on the other side of the bar, she would give it an hour.

"I'm not waiting no three hours to vote. If they can't get me through in an hour I'm leaving." In the end there was little to worry about.

At the Israel Methodist Community Church, just around the corner, there was a long line when the polls opened at dawn. But within a few hours, voters were in and out in a matter of minutes. Here in the heart of black Chicago, not far from where Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama worked as a community organiser, the question wasn't so much who they were going to vote for but whether they thought he would win.

"He's gonna win," said one woman as she left the polling station under a fluttering Stars and Stripes. "I have left it in God's hands and I'm sure he will deliver."

A few miles south in the more mixed suburb of Glenwood it took Davis 40 minutes to get in and out. He usually votes in the evening but had organised with a co-worker to cover for him in the morning and then return the favour in the evening. Davis, an African American, who voted for Obama was not convinced that his vote would be counted. "They stole it before so they can steal it again. I don't know what happens if they do it this time. But I think there'll be trouble."

Confident that Obama would win if the vote were free and fair, Davis looked forward to going back to the President's Lounge last night to celebrate.

A stocky plain-spoken man in his fifties, he said he felt proud and excited to have cast a vote for a black president. "I never thought he would come this far. I really didn't. I think it's great for America. Not just black America. But all of America…."

And then his voice cracked. And then he cried. Walking away to compose himself he came back. "I'm sorry he said. I never knew this thing went so deep."

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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
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'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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