Hearty cheers ring out at Tavolo

The penultimate moment at Tavolo around 11:20 p.m. on Tuesday night. Photo by Ed Forry

Election day was a long, chilly day for Dorchester Democrats. Dozens of campaign volunteers had arisen well before dawn to organize the troops for Elizabeth Warren and President Obama in one of the biggest GOTV (Get Out The Vote) events this town has ever seen.

But if the temperatures were cold, the day dawned sunny and dry, and the workers fanned out across the neighborhood from the command post at the IBEW hall on Freeport Street, keeping careful count of ID’ing their voters, and door-knocking right up until the polling places shut down.

Shortly after 8 p.m. they began to re-gather to watch, to wait, and to see if their work had paid off. Tavolo, the little giant of a restaurant founded four years ago on the ground floor of Jim Keefe’s Carruth building at Ashmont Station, has emerged as the center of progressive Democratic politics in the city’s south-side precincts, and that’s where tireless organizer Joyce Linehan gathered with dozens of Warren supporters to watch the results come in.

Perhaps due to fatigue from the long day, or to the contentious tone of the campaign season, the mood was just a bit subdued, the crowd significantly smaller than the one that had gathered there in 2008 to see the first Obama win. But throughout there was an air of cautious enthusiasm as the three TV monitors carried news of early returns showing surprising strength for Warren and positive results for the president.

All the while, Linehan sat with a half-eaten small pizza and a WiFi’d laptop at her plate, tweeting messages and Facebooking bellwether reports, as Southie writer Michael Patrick MacDonald sat next to her fingering the keys on his handheld wireless device. One person noted a scene reflecting the new technogical age: Everyone, it seemed, had their smartphones in their hands, and almost all eyes were fixed on the tiny two inch screens, looking for any late-breaking morsel: “Private jets were causing a parking problem at Logan, as corporate tycoons arrived for a Romney victory party;” … “Obama wins all 11 Mass electoral votes;” … “Donald Trump arrives at the BCEC in Southie.”

Then, just after 10 p.m., came the news: “Elizabeth Warren defeats Scott Brown.” The Tavolo crowd erupted in jubilation; their work these many months had paid off. The final results would show that Warren won Dorchester with 83 percent of the vote, with Brown barely winning two precincts.

At that news, the celebratory feel began to grow exponentially, first as Brown delivered gracious and conciliatory concession remarks, and then erupting at the first sight of a victorious Warren appearing on the monitors at campaign headquarters in downtown Boston.

After that, the interest turned national, and the TVs were switched away from local reports on NECN to election coverage with Dorchester’s favorite son, John King, on CNN. Word was tweeted that NBC News had called the election for Obama shortly after 11 p.m., and a few minutes later the news flashed on the video screens: “Breaking News- CNN projection – Barack Obama re-elected President.”

The jubilation moved into high gear: arms were raised, hallelujahs were shouted, hugs were exchanged – and more than a few eyes teared up.

The celebration continued around the room, and as election night turned into early the next morning, the Dorchester Democrats began to collect themselves and head for home, exultant, yes, but more than a bit weary.

As folks left Tavolo, many stopped to pose for a photo of themselves with a life-size poster of the re-elected 44th president. Giving a giant smile and a thumbs up, Tavolo owner Chris Douglass said, “Sorry my Dad missed this.”