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At the Northern California Obama HQ…

…on Adeline Street in Berkeley, where volunteers are crammed in tightly around folding tables, calling Colorado voters to get out the vote. A cheer went up here a short while ago as a field organizer announced National Public Radio had called Pennsylvania and New Hampshire for Obama; now that same organizer is telling everyone Obama himself called the California field director to implore volunteers to stay on the phones.

Frankly, it looks as if you’d have to drag these people away in chains to get ’em off the phones before the polls close. They’re hunkered down with cell phones, snatching bites and sips between calls, ringing desk bells every time they hang up on a voter committed to Obama.

Now they’ve got ABC News on a projection screen… They’re so hungry for news from back east, and yet so determined to cram as many calls as they can into the time they have left, they barely know where to turn.

UPDATE @ 6:05 P.M.: Screams of joy here as ABC just projected Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for Obama. Texas looks close at this hour, but these people know better than to think the Lone Star State’s gonna go blue. They seem delighted, however, that ABC’s not yet willing to call McCain’s home state of Arizona…

UPDATE @ 6:20 P.M.: Now they’re calling Iowa voters, and the desk bells are ringing out.

UPDATE @ 6: 35 p.m.: Adam Stern, 49, of Berkeley, said it was his daughter who brought him here.

“She’s 13, and she’s been here half a dozen times in the last two weeks,” he said. “I’m very motivated to keep working for Obama; my daughter is an inspiration to me. She actually recruited two of her best friends to join her on several of her visits here.”

Sasha Stern pauses between calls, phone still cocked by her ear, to disclose that she has placed about 350 to 400 calls by her estimation. “I’ve called New Mexico, Florida, Missouri, Colorado and Iowa,” she says, before dialing the next Iowan.

Her dad said he’s been stunned by the campaign’s efficiency. “They trained us, and in 15 minutes, both my daughter and I were on the phones making calls to voters. The level of organization is very sophisticated.”

UPDATE @ 6:55 P.M.: Yvette Stuart, 67, of Oakland, pauses between calls to snap a camera-phone photo of a fellow volunteer who’s posing with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Obama. The West African native said she has never worked for a political campaign before, but the Obama t-shirt, the eight Obama buttons on her jacket and her very presence here tonight illustrates the depth of her dedication to this one.

“I’ve been really, really energized by his message… I believe it’s a chance for all of America to have someone they can believe in,” she said. “It was better to put my mouth where my energy was than to just sit wringing my hands… Change cannot happen if you don’t work for it.”

They’re shutting down the shop here, and directing people to the big campaign party starting at 8 p.m. at the Marriott in downtown Oakland. I’ll be there too, after a few other stops…

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.