Keanin Loomis, chief advocate at the Innovation Factory in Hamilton, may be the most envied man in Canada on Super Tuesday. That's because he's an American living in Canada who has a vote in the U.S. presidential election.
And not just any vote: a vote in the swing state of Virginia.
Though as an absentee voter, Loomis didn't get a chance to “pull the lever or push the button,” he said election day doesn't feel all that different in Hamilton than it would if he were in the U.S. on Tuesday.
“I don't think it feels much different other than today, there's nobody out with an 'I just voted' sticker,” he said.
He was grateful to be here during the race because it meant he didn't have to watch an endless stream of political ads on TV.
For Loomis, who came to Canada three years ago from Washington, D.C., the U.S. election is of greater interest to Canadians than many of his American friends.
“It's really incredible to me to see how many Canadians are interested in this election, more so than many of my American friends who have become so jaded that they don't even care, ” he said.
Jeff Wingard, a social policy consultant in Hamilton, has been in Canada for 15 years. He also noted how interested Canadians are in talking U.S. politics with him.
“Canadians are a little more engaged in politics than Americans,” said Wingard.
“There are lots of Americans who aren't that aware or interested in what's going on. My sister-in-law who lives in New York is kind of like, yeah, whatever happens, it doesn't really affect her life.”
Wingard, who has cast his absentee vote, isn't an apathetic American though. He said he's very invested in the outcome of the race.
He admits that he's found the campaign “nerve-wracking.”
“I'm very surprised that it's as close as it appears to be. I was thinking about last term — I'm a real Obama fan — and when we thought the way it was going to go last year, we had a huge party, we had people over, and the funny thing was we knew the verdict really early in the evening. This year it's a much closer race and it's nerve-wracking.”
Both Loomis and Wingard said they'll be glued to their TVs tonight, watching to see how close the race really turns out to be.
“I will probably schedule my morning light in case I have to stay up late to get a verdict,” confessed Wingard. “I'm pretty confident we're going to wake up and it's going to be an Obama time, but I'm worried enough that I'm going to stay up and watch.”
Loomis said he's been checking up on the election all day online and on Twitter.
“It's harmed my productivity [at work]. I'll be happy to put it behind me,” he joked.
Jeffrey Brown, a partner in a national accounting firm, won't bother to check up on the election until late tonight.
A resident of Hamilton for the past two-and-a-half years, Brown said he may turn on his TV around 10 o'clock and tune into The National, but that will be the extent of it.
The Boston native said he prefers being a “spectator on the sidelines” rather than in the U.S. right now.
“The campaign process is somewhat frustrating to me,” said Brown. “It' s very expensive. I'm not convinced that the best people want to run. I'm not sure people understand or would be able to make decisions about what the right uses are for all of the things a leader needs to do going forward.”
He has no predictions for the outcome either.
“I'm never right. I do think it's very close no matter how you slice it.”
Brown would rather talk Canadian politics than American — a quirk that sets him apart not just from the majority of Americans but also from many Canadians.
“Canadians don't want to talk about it, but they do want to talk about U.S. politics,” he said. “But to me, quite frankly U.S. politics is a bore. It's not substantive.”
Sarah Wayland, a researcher and writer on social issues, cast her absentee ballot in the swing state of Virginia, an opportunity to make a difference that she appreciates.
“Your vote really counts,” she said.
Wayland, who holds dual citizenship, is able to vote in both Canada and the U.S.
“In a way, I can't resist voting [in the U.S. election] but sometimes it's with some qualms,” she admitted.
Her biggest concern is that she's not in the U.S. and therefore able to really get a sense of what people are thinking and feeling. But she also feels lucky to help determine how U.S. policies effect her as a Canadian.
On election night, however, she wants to be with other Americans.
“I'll be going to Kelsey's, to the Democrats Abroad event.”
She said she organized the last such evening four years ago.
“It was such an exciting event — standing room only.”
“It will be different this time.”
Brown doesn't agree.
“No matter what happens, the sun will rise tomorrow and life goes on. Hopefully they'll come to their senses and work on the issues that affect people on both sides of the aisle and work to make things better.”
Wayland sees the outcome of the election as a harbinger of what's to come in North America.
“If Mitt Romney wins, I will just feel that it is a North American shift to conservatism,” she said.
Wingard is trying to be philosophical about the outcome.
“A big part of me is American and will be disappointed if the verdict I'm hoping for doesn't come out.”
But being in Canada does have its benefits in that worst-case scenario.
“I've been here long enough that it isn't as devastating,” he joked.