Today the Obama campaign put a lot of effort into something called line management: making sure people waiting in hour-plus lines didn't get grumpy and leave. At every polling place I've visited in Northern Virginia, there have been enough snacks to feed a dorm full of stoners with the munchies. There are ponchos and umbrellas to shield wet waiters. The volunteers in charge of minding the line even get a title at some polls: comfort captains. The real pioneer of line management, I'm reminded, was Tammy Baldwin, the first open lesbian in the House, who delivered steaming hot pizzas to students waiting in lines at polls.
The lines from earlier in the day did not reappear after work in Virginia, suggesting that nervous voters who thought that voting after work was too big a risk voted early in droves. At one Alexandria polling place, John Adams Elementary School, poll watchers told me that according to raw data, about 75 percent of the precinct's registered voters voted either today or by absentee ballot. Despite some reports of problems at polls in Virginia, most of the campaign and party officials I've spoken with seem unconcerned. However, minutes after 7 p.m., when Virginia's polls officially close, the Obama campaign sent a text message to supporters telling them to hustle to the polls: "If you are in line by 7 p.m. you have the right to vote!"