Raleigh, N.C. — Media hordes invaded Chicago and Boston Monday in preparation of election night gatherings by the two presidential candidates, although it remains unclear which city will be celebrating by Wednesday.
After a whirlwind end to months of campaigning, President Barack Obama planned to spend election night with supporters in Chicago, where he first gained political fame as an Illinois state senator. Republican nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney likewise returns to his political roots by rallying in Boston.
Hundreds of news crews from around the globe crammed into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for what Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan hope will be a raucous victory party.
Photographer James Marshall said political races are much lower key by comparison in his home of New Zealand.
"We probably have four TV stations in New Zealand, so you'll probably get four TV cameras at an event," Marshall said. "Here, there are hundreds – hundreds of cameras and media.
"It's an interesting election. A lot of eyes (are) on it – who's going to take it – because, either way, it will affect the world dramatically, I believe," he said.
Media won't be allowed into the sprawling McCormick Place convention center in Chicago until Tuesday, but a small city of satellite trucks has set up in nearby parking lots. Journalists from stations from as far away as Russia, Mexico, Norway and Japan were beaming news stories back to their respective countries.
A short distance away, Grant Park was much more serene Monday than election night 2008, when an estimated 240,000 people crowded in to hear Obama proclaim victory and become the nation's first African-American president.
"I didn't know which way to turn," said Damien Lewis, a Chicago resident was in Grant Park four years ago. "I wanted to be in some of everybody's pictures. I was looking for newscasters, just because it was a historic moment and I wanted to be part of it."
Chicago native Christopher Thomotoulos said he never felt prouder of his hometown and the U.S. than that night.
"People from all over the world were coming in to celebrate that moment, and to see a diverse person become president for me was very uplifting," Thomotoulos said.
Trying to relive that moment, volunteers at an Obama phone bank in a Chicago office building expressed cautious optimism Monday as the campaign's get-out-the-vote effort was in overdrive for a final Election Day push.
"I'm feeling excited. I'm feeling anxious. I'm praying a lot. I'm not sleeping. I want this man re-elected in the worst way," campaign volunteer Andi Morris said.
Morris, a Massachusetts native, said she remembers Romney's tenure as governor and said it was tough to be a union worker under his administration.
Volunteers like Morris and Bill Boone said they wanted to leave nothing to chance, which is why they have been working overtime for an Obama re-election. Boone, a Chicago native, has also traveled to other states to knock on doors on behalf of the president.
"There's a hope and a sense that he's going to squeak through. That's my prayer as well," Boone said.
Meanwhile, Rocky Mount native Andrew Pardue said he was excited by the opportunity to be part of Romney's Election Day operation in Boston.
Pardue, 18, is a first-year student at Harvard University studying government.
"It's definitely not North Carolina. The campus and the students are a lot more liberal than I was used to in high school," he said.
Pardue said he, like Romney, is more moderate than many Republicans, and he was drawn to the candidate for his positions and his business acumen.
"He has a great track record of coming into entities that are failing financially and turning them around," he said.
Pardue has his own future political aspirations, calling public service "the best way to make a difference and make a change for the better in my community."
On Tuesday, however, he said his sole focus will be on the Romney campaign.
"I'll be answering phones from battleground states, talking with poll workers, troubleshooting problems that they might come up with," he said. "To be able to work in your candidate's campaign headquarters on Election Day – and it's your first election – that's an amazing opportunity, I think."