By Isaac Arnsdorf

CHICAGO, 11:38 a.m. — Here in Hyde Park, the leafy South Side neighborhood where Barack Obama made his home and launched his political career, his neighbors say they remember voting for him when he was their state senator. But, they said, they never would have predicted that they might some day vote for him for president.

Obama himself returned to his polling place at Shoesmith Elementary to cast his own ballot around 7:30 this morning.

John Hall, who lives across the street, said he had never seen his precint so crowded. In past elections, you could walk right in but today the line stretched around the block.

But this is no ordinary election for the residents of Hyde Park, who have known Obama as a neighbor, a state senator, a U.S. Senator, and now a presidential candidate.