Maui Democrats were energized by native son Barack Obama's re-election as president of the United States on Tuesday night, while Maui Republicans were not so much.
"I can tell you Maui's thrilled," said Dylan Beesley, state Democratic Party Maui regional coordinator. "It's been a yearlong-plus effort. It was worth it because it was clear to us it was a fight for our future, for Maui's future, for our keiki's future, and we fought hard."
From Democratic headquarters off Main Street, Beesley said hundreds of local Democrats volunteered for the elections, including for U.S. Senate and House candidates Mazie Hirono and Tulsi Gabbard, respectively.
Just Tuesday, volunteers made more than 5,000 phone calls and knocked on at least 2,000 doors in Maui County, he said. Over the last two months, volunteers contacted about 20,000 county residents.
With all 35 Maui County precincts reporting Tuesday night, Obama took 35,979 votes, or 73.7 percent, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney received 11,577, or 23.7 percent of the vote.
"I'm ecstatic," said volunteer and Democratic National Convention Maui delegate Mary Wagner. "I was involved in 2008, but this time around, it seemed even more important."
She conceded that there wasn't the almost-overwhelming excitement and hope inspired and experienced four years ago. But while the worst economic crisis in generations may have externally worn people down, Wagner noted, it didn't keep them from going to the polls Tuesday to support the president's re-election.
Obama faced incredible challenges, and as the incumbent, he was often the unfair target of blame, Wagner said. The economy, health care, financial equality and other important issues, such as women's rights, have incrementally improved under his watch, she said.
The president also effectively stopped and reversed the Great Recession - which he inherited - under his watch, she noted. Wagner also said she believed that the president will be able to resurrect America in his second term by building greatly upon the foundations he's already put in place.
For whatever their reasons, many people chose not to see the financial improvements, Wagner said. That was probably because the majority was simply struggling just to get by, let alone have the ability to save for something special or prepare for retirement.
However, voters saw the differences between the candidates and where the country was headed under them and voted when it really mattered, Wagner said.
"Personally, I am glad he will have the ability to fortify the policies he already put in place, like Obamacare," Wagner said. "There's no reason today, with health care costs so incredibly high, that anyone should go without."
Two blocks up Main Street in Wailuku at Senate candidate Linda Lingle's campaign headquarters, Republicans were obviously glum at Obama's victory and Mitt Romney's defeat. Still, most appeared to keep their chins and spirits up and some said they'd make do as a nation together.
"I'm very disappointed," said Hawaii Republican alternate convention delegate Teresa "Pepper" Dombroski of Maui. "I was really hopeful that these key battleground states would come through, and they just didn't.
"Sometimes, it's hard to understand how we as Americans can look at the same situation, like the lack of employment and deficit, with such a different point of view," said Dombroski, who attended the Republican National Convention in Florida. "But I guess we have to reconcile with the facts as they are and settle with the same old, same old again."
However, Dombroski said that just because Hawaii's Electoral College votes were pretty much predetermined before the polls opened Tuesday, that didn't mean would-be conservative voters should stay home Election Day.
"You still have to keep the focus on the local races, the County Council, the Legislature, the Senate and House," she said. "Those will still be decided by slim margins."
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.