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Support for Obama in SE Queens appears to remain strong in 2012

Voters stand in a line that stretches around the block outside PS 147 in Cambria Heights. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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With key swing states such as Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in their crosshairs, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney seemed to assume New York was a lock for the Democratic candidate — and judging by the sentiments expressed by voters in southeast Queens on Election Day, they were right.

Voters lined up early and in great numbers Tuesday at polling sites in neighborhoods such as Cambria Heights, St. Albans and Jamaica, where some voters said they waited for as long as two hours to cast their votes.

By midday, the polling sites at the Math, Science Research and Technical High School at Campus Magnet and PS 147, both in Cambria Heights, had logged nearly 5,000 votes and the lines that stretched around their buildings were only growing larger.

Raqiyah Dixon, 26, said that even through the presidential debates she had not decided whom she would vote for.

“I’m not registered as a party. I’m an independent,” she said. “After this week especially, I felt [Obama] showed really strong leadership helping us get out of this disaster situation. With Romney, I don’t really get that vibe.”

Amaya Stewart, 12, went to PS 147 where she watched her mother, a Haitian immigrant, vote for the first time. Amaya’s mother was reluctant to say why she had voted for Obama, though the young girl was eager to explain why she would vote for him — if he could run again in four years.

“If you vote for an African-American president again, us African Americans will feel like we’re somebody,” she said.

Rod Ivey, a production artist for TimesLedger Newspapers, said he experienced a bit of confusion voting in Hollis.

“I got to our school and saw all these cars and I thought, oh gosh, there are a million people voting,” he said. “Then I got in the car and realized it was the gas line.”

Neither Obama’s nor Romney’s campaigns spent much time or capital in southeast Queens this election season.

Raphael Kippings, 27, said he had not gotten any robo-calls or knocks on the door — just a few pieces of campaign literature in his spam box.

“From Obama, a few. From Romney, not that many,” he said.

Nigel Loncke, a volunteer with Obama’s campaign from Far Rockaway, said little of the president’s 2012 campaign focused on swaying voters in New York, instead opting to channel southeast Queens’ enthusiasm into reaching out to voters in swing states.

Loncke said supporters Tuesday would continue to call residents and encourage them to get out the vote.

“That’s basically what it is. Throughout the day it will be changing from Pennsylvania to Ohio,” he said.

Even though U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) was facing a challenge for his seat, the congressman spent much of his time in the past few months stumping for Obama in states like Florida and Ohio. He was overwhelmingly re-elected.

In Cambria Heights, Norma Penn, a volunteer for a candidate in the local Assembly race, sat across the street from PS 147 encouraging passers-by to vote. She said she did not believe there were many Romney supporters in the neighborhood.

“There might have been a few who slipped through, but this is Cambria Heights,” she said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 8:09 pm, November 7, 2012
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Nov. 8, 2012, 3:17 pm

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