Most of California was solid Obama territory Tuesday, but a swath of southwestern Riverside County remained resolutely in the red.
That was apparent in a garage polling station on Calle Katerine in Temecula where a bowl of candy and religious tracts sat inside the doorway. Those with a sweet tooth grabbed the Skittles, while the spiritually hungry could walk off with booklets like "One Way!" and "The Word Became Flesh."
In this sprawling Republican stronghold of social conservatives and mega-churches, no one looked twice. "Yes on 8" signs, supporting the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, sprouted from yards, trees and bumpers. Many yards had two or three just to make the point. And McCain-Palin signs vastly outnumbered the few Obama-Biden placards.
Last week, more than 1,000 demonstrators lined Rancho California Road in Temecula to rally against gay marriage. Some owners of "No on 8" signs reported them stolen or defaced. A few "Yes on 8" signs suffered the same fate.
"My sign was stolen, so I made a new one out of wood and screwed it to my tree," said Lorian Dunlop, 47, of Murrieta, who was handing out anti-8 literature in front of a polling station near the Ronald Reagan Sports Park. "I've had a few people yell, 'Sodom and Gomorrah' at me today as they have come past."
Dunlop married her partner in June and has two children. "It's really hard when you know your neighbors are voting on your marriage," she said.
Those who voted for Proposition 8 said they weren't out to discriminate, just to preserve a marriage tradition they felt was grounded both in nature and religious teaching. Others just didn't like feeling bullied by the judicial system.
"I'm very pro-family, I'm not a gay hater," said Carrie Tomseth, 51. "I have strong religious beliefs, but that's not what is really motivating me."
She said she didn't like the fact that California's Supreme Court had overruled the voters in June, striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. "I don't like lawyers telling me what to do," she said.
Carlos Tangonan, 39, walked out of the polling station and into a light rain. He said he'd voted for McCain and Proposition 8.
"I am the father of two children and we were raised with Christian values," the Port of Los Angeles policeman said. "Will they teach about gay marriage in school? I want my children to be taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don't discriminate, but this is what I believe."
Some, like Guy Lowry, 49, took a different view. He voted for McCain but against the constitutional amendment.
"I think 8 is discriminatory," he said. "I think everyone has the right to be who they want to be. I think a religious push is behind this. Why eliminate the freedom of choice?"
Like many other McCain supporters interviewed, he said he believed the Arizona lawmaker had demonstrated strength of character throughout his life, especially while a prisoner in Vietnam. "I think Obama would be a good president, but his lack of experience concerns me," he said.
Wearing a shirt bearing Obama's likeness, Stacey Esteras, 26, made no bones about her choice. "I don't want to vote for anyone even remotely connected to Bush," she said.
She said her Obama signs had been stolen from her frontyard. "We had a 'No on 8' bumper sticker and had people throw sodas at our car," she said.
Esteras' husband, Nate, said he didn't mind dissenting views but worried about the level of anger. "This area is super-conservative, which is fine, but the extremely anti-gay stuff is out of control," he said.
Michael Johnson, 21, experienced some of the passion first hand when he and several others held an anti-Bush rally in a Temecula park.
"People drove by and spit on us, they threw eggs on us, one guy got out and wanted to fight us," he said. "There is a high level of intolerance among some elements."
But some say that may be changing, as the region grows and becomes younger. Temecula and neighboring Murrieta have about 100,000 residents each.
"I would say over the last 10 years it has become somewhat less conservative," said Marci Wuebbon, an actress, who had just finished voting for Obama and against Proposition 8 at a Temecula church.
"I'm in theater and I have lots of gay friends and they love just like we do," she said. "I haven't found many folks here who agree with me on this."