FOR one U.S. expat living north of the border, President Barack Obama's victory Tuesday meant that after years abroad, she can finally consider going home one day.
Kris Bulcroft, president of North Vancouver's Capilano University, has spent more than a decade bouncing between her native Washington State, Europe and Canada. Bulcroft, who voted for Obama in support of his views on social justice and education, said his victory over Republican candidate Mitt Romney was a sign of real progress.
"This is something that is really hard for me to admit, but there was enough division within the United States that it caused me to stand back from afar and wonder if I belonged there anymore," she said.
"(Tuesday) night for the first time I felt optimistic again, and I felt like maybe at some point I can go home."
Surrounded by Americans and Canadians, Bulcroft took in the election night results at the Vancouver home of U.S. Consul General Anne Callaghan. The tension that had built as results trickled in was relieved when Bulcroft got a call from her daughter in Massachusetts.
"She said: 'It's getting called here. It's going to be Obama.' So I had a one-minute interlude where I was maybe the only one in the room who knew, and that felt kind of precious."
It's not just the "good drama" of the U.S. elections that draws and holds the attention of non-Americans, she said. Foreigners truly care about the outcome because of the serious impact it has on the rest of the world.
"Certainly, we've all come to understand that it isn't just America; we are a globally linked economy," she said. But having lived in Tanzania for a time, she knows its effects go far beyond finances.
"Depending on who is elected in the U.S. political system, it has real implications for . . . support of contraception use in Africa, AIDS education," she said.
Bulcroft wasn't the only local who had a vested interest in Tuesday's result. Taleeb Noormohamed, North Vancouver's Liberal candidate in the 2011 federal election, has been a longtime supporter of the Democrats. This year, he was moved to volunteer for Obama's campaign in Las Vegas, Nev.
He spent the week leading up to the election knocking on doors, explaining how and where people could vote, getting them to the polls and manning lengthy lineups. Primarily in African-American and Latino neighbourhoods, Noormohamed found the vibe to be very positive - "they wanted Obama to be re-elected" - but he was shocked at some of the misinformation floating around.
"People were being told they could vote on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, that they could tell their friends to vote for them," he said. One man claimed he was offered money in exchange for directing people to the wrong polling stations.
"Unfortunately, it's a commonly accepted practice in U.S. politics these days, and it's really shameful because it really sullies the democratic process," said Noormo-hamed. Nonetheless, he said it was exciting to see all of the hard work pay off and to witness Americans overcome a number of other hurdles, with many states passing same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization bills.
"There was a degree of excitement about things that are almost old news in Canada now," he said. "It was a real wake-up call as to how lucky we are."
Closer to home, Cameron Isenor, owner of Pemberton Station Pub off Marine Drive in North Vancouver, was hosting a small celebration in his living room. Wearing his Obama T-shirt, Isenor and a handful of friends who had taken in the historic 2008 election together speculated about what the future could bring.
"I feel awesome. Even more so listening to some of the comments from some of the Republicans, they sound more open," he said. "Hopefully with a little bit of bipartisanship things will look better in the United States."