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Government, Politics & Issues

In the mood? A look at how voters were feeling on Election Day

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 3, 2010 - Around 9:15 a.m., Tim Hogan was close to the 300th person to vote at his Des Peres polling place. Despite the vitriol of the election ads, the robocalls and division over the issues, the actual voting experience was a pleasant one this morning.

Hogan ran into neighbors and talked about how the kids spent their Halloween.

Turnout also seemed high, but with short lines, for Joan Brannigan in Olivette. And when he voted around 11:30 a.m., Stanley Waxelman found turnout light, but was told that voting at his University City polling place had been steady all morning.

With the polls now closed, the real impact of the day won't be based on whether it was pleasant or if the lines were short or long, however.

It will be about how people voted.

From the offices at stake to propositions that have made the news, much was up for consideration today.

Using our Public Insight Network as well as feeds from reporters in different communities, the St. Louis Beacon offers this look at the mood on election day.

The Disappointment Factor

Nationally, voters expressed disappointment with the current administration and fears about the economy, according to an exit poll by the Associated Press.

Around the region, similar feelings were expressed.

Around midday, freelance reporter Puneet Kollipara spoke with Mike Hickman, a De Soto resident who once voted for U.S. Rep. Carnahan, D-St. Louis, but voted for Republican Ed Martin this time around. Unlike many the Beacon spoke with, he was more excited to vote today than two years ago.

"I'm hoping to see a huge change in Washington," Hickman said. "I'm not a big fan of the new energy policies they're wanting to pass. The health-care bill, I'm not a very big fan of that either."

Peggy Kruse of Florissant went in the opposite direction. Kruse voted for John McCain in 2008. This time around, she chose Democrats Robin Carnahan for U.S. Senate, Lacy Clay for state representative and Charlie Dooley for St.Louis County executive.

Kruse isn't a fan of Obama, "but I think, given political and economic constraints, Obama is doing as good a job as anyone could in these distressing times."

Kruse was also concerned with losing health-care reform and thought Democrats would be more likely to support stimulus and keep the economy growing.

Patricia Brennan of Collinsville, voted a straight Democratic ticket, "though I wished, in a couple of cases, that I could have voted 'none of the above,'" she said.

"I believe that President Obama is doing the best he can with the mess the last administration left and I think he deserves our support," she said. "I am not happy with Congress but would rather have a Democratic House and Senate in the hope that they will finally get it together and begin to lead."

Robert Hormell of Glen Carbon, considers himself an independent. He voted for Democrats because he did not feel "that the Republicans have demonstrated that they have any better idea as to how to improve the economy and balancing the various state/federal budgets."

And in Rockaway Beach, Mo., Bill Petrovic said, "I voted proudly for only conservative candidates."

A Proposition

In north St. Louis, Beacon intern Alex Sciuto found that the propositions were of main interest to voters, including Proposition A, on the city earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City, on which most people were voting no. In addition, he found most people were voting in favor of more regulations on dog breeding in Proposition B.

In south St. Louis, Proposition A took precedence and people interviewed by the Beacon seemed concerned about the lack of plan to replace money lost if the proposition passed. In both places, no one mentioned any excitement about candidates.

Hogan voted against Proposition A "because it was the ultimate special interest ballot issue; it was supported by one man who doesn't want to have to pay his fair share of supporting the local government of the city of St. Louis and is willing to destroy the city to have his way."

Waxelmandid the same.

"I voted no on Amendment A," he said. "St. Louis and Kansas City are both under severe financial stress, and elimination of the earnings tax would be potentially catastrophic."

Everyone interviewed by the Beacon voted in favor of Proposition B.

Said Kruse, "Who in their right mind wouldn't?"

Not Rocking The Vote

Throughout the day, Beacon reporters and interns checked in with young people at various campuses in the area.

Most weren't on fire to vote this year.

Brittany Benne, a Fontebonne student, voted for Obama in 2008. She said in an interview that she wouldn't be voting today.

"I haven't really taken the time to pay attention," Benne said. "I don't want to go and vote and then vote for something in the end that I really didn't want."

At St. Louis Community College at Meramec, Sciuto caught up with students Amber Birmingham and Amanda McClenning.

Birmingham said she'd like to vote, but had to work. McClenning said she planned to vote. "It's a good thing to vote. Right?" McClenning asked.

Tianna Woods, also a Meramec student, felt more engaged. "What do I care about? Proposition A. Senator. Auditor," Woods said.

She said she voted for Proposition A and also voted for Carnahan. "I think they have a history of doing good things for Missouri," Woods said.

Melissa Bleich of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville may have spoken for many students when she said she wasn't focused on any issues in particular.

"I have not paid much attention to it, which sounds really bad, but it is true,'' said Bleich, a graduate student who is majoring in exercise physiology. "But if there is one thing I've noticed, I do not like how the candidates bash each other in political ads."

Intern Alex Sciuto and freelance reporter Puneet Kollipara contributed to this report.