NEW YORK – New York is a deeply Democratic state, and was almost assured to go the way of Barack Obama on Election Day. Still, as Diddy cast his ballot for the Democratic presidential candidate Tuesday, he couldn't help but feel that he had made a difference.
"I felt like my vote was the vote that put him into office. It was down to one vote, and that was going to be my vote. And that may not be true, but that's how much power it felt like I had," the hip-hop mogul said.
After spending much of the campaign using his star wattage to get other people to the polls, Diddy, like other celebrity political boosters, led Tuesday by example. He arrived at his polling site — a school in midtown Manhattan — in the morning and waited in line as a bevy of media prepared to capture the moment.
Diddy said he believed he was potentially making history by voting for the first black president, and also felt the weight of the past in the voting booth.
"I'm not trying to be dramatic, but I just felt like, Martin Luther King, and I felt the whole civil rights movement, I felt all that energy, and I felt my kids," he said. "It was all there at one time. It was a joyous moment."
Country singer Ricky Skaggs felt equally passionate about his choice. He voted early in his home state of Tennessee for Republican John McCain, a decision was rooted in his Christian beliefs. He said he couldn't reconcile with Obama on issues ranging from abortion to how strong a supporter he would be of Israel.
"I have really gone to the scriptures and that's the way I vote. I find a man or woman that to me, their principles, ... lines up with what I believe the word of God says," he said Tuesday afternoon. "That's how I vote, and that's the things that I stand on, I would have a hard time voting contrary to that."
Pete Wentz, bass player for Fall Out Boy, showed up at his polling center near Beverly Hills, California, which turned out to be the garage of a private home. The longtime Obama and Joe Biden supporter — who also rallied against a California proposition that would ban gay marriage — said his vote "feels important."
"I don't usually go out of my way to indoctrinate people or tell people, 'You should do this because of me, or you shouldn't do this because of me,' but I think it's important for people to get out there," said the 29-year-old rocker. His pregnant wife, singer Ashlee Simpson, wasn't with him, but Wentz said she would be out later to vote.
For Wentz, the vote for Biden for vice president was more than important — it was personal.
"I would not be standing here actually in reality at all because my parents met working for Biden," he said. "They met on the campaign, so they have this particular affection for Joe. He came to their wedding. If it weren't for Joe Biden, I would not exist as a human being."
Singer and actress Brandy was in Manhattan on Monday to promote her upcoming album, but planned to fly back to Los Angeles to cast her vote for Obama.
"Our world is changing. It's changing right now, and I'm so happy to contribute to that," she said. "I am excited, and I'm going to take a picture of it."
Actor and liberal activist Tim Robbins had a battle before he could vote in Manhattan on Tuesday. His name was missing from the registration rolls, and an election supervisor and a police officer got involved before Robbins got a judge to issue a court order allowing him to vote when his registration was later verified.
"This is just one example of how difficult it is to vote in the United States," he said.
Country star Taylor Swift, who declined to say whether she was voting for Obama or John McCain, waited in a long line a few days ago to vote with her mother in Tennessee — and was so happy, she recorded the event for one of her video blogs.
"I was really excited because I got to vote," the multiplatinum singer said in a weekend interview. "I early-voted, and I was really excited to be able to do that, and it was really something that I was looking forward to all year, ever since I turned 18, so that was really fun."
Diddy, who turned 39 on Tuesday, delayed his usual birthday bash with the hopes of having a grand birthday/Obama celebration the next night. If Obama was elected, he gave this promise for the inauguration: "I will definitely DJ at the party for free."
While some polls have pointed to an Obama victory, Skaggs said he wasn't so confident in that data, and predicted a tight finish: "It's little too close to be a a landslide one way or the other."
Skaggs was hoping a McCain victory would keep him welcome at the White House: he not only has performed for President George W. Bush, but also his father when he was president.
"I'm not sure that Mr. Obama likes bluegrass or country music that well," he said with a chuckle.