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April 24, 2014

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2008 ELECTION:

Election Day on the Strip

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 | 6:12 p.m.

(Sun online reporter Melissa Arseniuk is spending Election Day on the Las Vegas Strip, talking to tourists and those who work in the Strip's casinos, hotels, restaurants and bars.)

While Val Costigan considers herself an independent voter, she was in a markedly good mood Tuesday as she predicted victory for Obama.

“I think Obama’s going to win,” she said.

A possible victory had her smiling, but her being $200 up after a morning of video poker was mostly behind her cheery mood.

“I’m happy,” she said as she stood in line to cash in her winnings at Bill’s Gambling Hall.

The Phoenix resident stood in another, very different line last week when she cast her ballot.

“I voted last week because I knew I was coming (to Vegas),” she said.

She didn't support her state’s senator, John McCain.

“McCain hasn’t done anything for Arizona all the years that he’s been there,” she said. “He can’t even go to a grocery store and figure out how to pay for things, how can he expect to run the country?."

Leah Goodsell disagrees. She said she believes McCain is not only capable of running the country, but is the best man for the job.

She wore a Republican Party pin on her white blouse as she walked though McCarran International Airport toward the baggage claim.

She and her husband are Jacksonville, Ark.-based business owners who flew to Las Vegas to attend an auto industry convention.

Before she boarded the plane Tuesday she bought a book to read during the flight. By the time the plane touched down in Las Vegas she was almost halfway through Joe Hilley’s "Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader."

She liked what she read.

“I can identify with her,” she said.

The Goodsells voted ahead of time and supported the Alaska governor and McCain, at the top of the ticket.

While Goodsell said she and her husband were hoping for an upset and a McCain victory, she admitted the odds were in favor for Obama.

“I don’t know if we’ll watch (the results as they come in) or not,” she said.

She said a Democratic majority would cause her to be “disappointed and upset, but life will go on.”

Another convention attendee, Lisa Allen, also was dreading an Obama win – even though she considers herself a Democrat.

“I’m a Democrat but didn’t vote Democrat,” she said as she waited at the luggage carousel.

She and her husband voted Monday before leaving their home in Sandpoint, Idaho.

The Denny’s restaurant inside the Casino Royale is a busy place and on the morning of the nation’s 56th consecutive quadrennial presidential election was no exception.

As staff hurriedly delivered heaping plates of pancakes and Grand Slam breakfasts to hungry tourists and weary partiers from the night before, an ever-growing crowd of rumbling bellies waited in the lobby, anxious for a table to open up.

Jerry Thompson and his wife, Linda, were among those waiting just after 9 a.m. Patriotically dressed in red, white and blue, the couple thought it was “pretty neat” to spend election day in Las Vegas.

“We voted early, before we left home,” he said. Thompson said he marked his absentee ballot “Democrat, all the way down the ticket,” and his wife did the same.

The two came to Vegas last week from Paducah, Ky., to celebrate their anniversary.

To mark the occasion the two enjoyed a night out on the town, but tonight he said will be quite different: They’re going to return to their rented condo early, make some dinner and watch the results as they come in.

“That’s going to be our entertainment this evening, our free show,” Linda said. “We’ll cook some steaks and watch the returns.”

Diana Virella likes to start her workday with a dose of ABC’s morning show, "The View." Election Day is no different. In fact, the fact that polls were opening as she prepared to leave for work made her more anxious to watch the talkshow that morning.

Shortly after 10 a.m. she and another staff member were closely watching the morning show as they performed their opening duties at Spanish Steps bar at Caesars Palace.

“They’re having it out right now,” Virella said with a laugh. “I knew they were going to get into it.”

She watched the bar’s TV monitor closely as two of the show’s Democratic co-hosts, Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd, were bickering with the program’s young and very conservative personality, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Virella voted early, last week, for John McCain.

“I just don’t think Obama is ready,” she said, noting she voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Despite her ballot she doesn’t think the Republican candidate is going to come out on top.

“I think Obama’s going to win it,” she said, but the prospect of a Democrat in the White House didn’t seem to bother her too much. “I’m not happy about it, but then again I’m not happy with McCain, either,” she said.

Judging from proud Republican country singer Toby Keith’s lyrics, his watering hole, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar, would be one of the last places you’d expect to see a Democrat on Election Day.

But Richard Toler walked into Harrah’s this morning and took a seat at the bar without realizing he was crossing party lines.

He ordered himself an Absolut vodka and orange juice and played some video poker while his wife played some penny slot machines a few yards away.

The Deerborne, Mich., couple voted before they left their home state for the battleground state of Nevada.

He said he voted for Barack Obama “because of the way the country is now because of the Bush administration. … We need a change.”

“Our economy is going to hell,” he said, “(And) I know Las Vegas is at the forefront of the foreclosure crisis. The Detroit area is (as well). They’re losing their houses, too.”

Toler cast his ballot for President Bush in 2000 but voted Democratic in 2004 because of the Iraq war.

“I voted for Bush the first time but, looking back, I think Gore won the majority of the vote,” he conceded.

“I applaud John McCain for being a war hero and all but … Obama better win,” he said. “I like the way he’s talking, if you listen to what he’s saying,” Toler said. “If he don’t win something’s wrong.”

Karen Crumlin and Althea Hern couldn’t agree more. They are two women on a mission: to get Barack Obama elected as president of the United States.

Casually dressed, but sporting two Obama campaign buttons each, there is spring in their step as they walk north on the sidewalk flanking Las Vegas Boulevard.

The two came to Las Vegas from Mountain View, Calif., last week to volunteer for the campaign in the Silver swing State. The trip is all on them: While the campaign provides a meager breakfast and some snacks here and there, the womens’ meals, hotels and transportation – not to mention time – are all on them.

“That’s how committed we are and that’s how important it is to us,” Crumlin said.

“I would regret waking up tomorrow now having done this,” she said. “Especially, God forbid, if he (Obama) loses.”

She said her day began at 6 a.m. when she and Hern visited Vegas homes to remind local Democrats to vote. With their first task of the day complete, they returned to their Strip hotel – which they paid for themselves – to plot their next step and share a meal with some fellow volunteers.

“We’re just playing it by ear today,” Crumlin said. “Wherever they need us, we’ll go.”

The women said their campaign work has had its challenges. Hern said they had visited a lot of Las Vegas area homes to provide maps to polling places, provide information and offer rides to Democrats who needed a lift to the closest voting booth.

“We’re not here to change votes,” Hern said.

Crumlin said Mountain View is a Democratic stronghold. “Here it’s more of a struggle,” she said, noting many Vegas residents she spoke to were upset and facing foreclosure.

“It’s a tough sell when they’re angry,” she said.

Both women voted by absentee ballot before they left for Vegas.

“It would be hypocritical if I were telling people to get out the vote if I hadn’t voted myself,” Crumlin said.

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