US election: ‘He’s the only president to keep his promises’

Republicans in Ohio revel in Trump’s resilience at polls as Democrats fight pessimism

At the Republican Party office in Xenia in Ohio's Greene County, on Tuesday night, a dozen people gather for an election watch party. There's lots of pizza, snacks and the odd beer going around. Face masks are conspicuous by their absence.

Trump 2020 flags are hung across a wall around a television broadcasting a conservative news network. Groups of two and three people chat quietly while others walk to and from a laptop in a back room, where they are checking on local election results as they filter in.

When a headline on the wall-mounted TV points out President Donald Trump is leading in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, cheers go up.

It’s been a good night for Republican candidates in many local and state races, but for these devout fans of Trump, the presidential contest is the obvious main prize.


The counts coming in from around Ohio and throughout parts of the Midwest suggest the challenge of Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden has not been as strong as pre-election polls had indicated. Carolyn Uecker says the much-talked-about idea of suburban women in Ohio and beyond having a major effect on the outcome – swinging it in Biden's favour – is something she never went along with.

‘Stopped the pandemic’

“I don’t know that there’s any validity to it. I don’t happen to consider myself in that category,” says the vice-chairwoman of the Republican Party in Greene County, pointing out she’s a suburban resident herself.

She says the president has done a “great job” handling the coronavirus pandemic. That’s despite having contracted Covid-19 herself about a month ago.

"The liberals have tried to make him out as a failure. He stopped the pandemic from doing any more damage by stopping people coming over from China. Had he not done that, it would have been much worse," she says. "He took charge."

A retired air force lieutenant colonel, Uecker puts Trump's clear wins in Ohio, Iowa and Texas – states the pollsters suggested were up for grabs – down to rural voters having got out and voted on Tuesday. But with the overall result still unclear, she's afraid what might happen should Biden eventually prevail.

"Boy, where do I start. The Democrats would pack the [supreme] court until they get enough people to legislate from the bench to make them happy," she says. The recent appointment of conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett to the court has further tilted it away from the liberal worldview.

“We would lose the good things the constitution and Bill of Rights give us. We’ll lose capitalism, and we’ll lose freedoms.” She fears Biden will be manipulated by others pushing their own agenda.

‘He loves America’

Bill Dean, a Republican who was re-elected to the Ohio state house on Tuesday, is not overly surprised that the polls that pointed to Biden winning Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin handily were off the mark. "There are lots of people around here who don't outwardly support Trump – don't have the lawn signs or won't talk about him on social media – but when it comes time to vote, they vote Trump," he says.

“Basically, he’s the only president that’s ever kept his promises and he loves America.”

Sitting at a table with his wife, chatting to locals, he says the pandemic is a hoax, “a perfect example of socialism”, since it has resulted in government taking a major role in how Americans live their everyday lives. “Biden said he is going to shut down the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania – that hasn’t helped [him].”

A few doors down the street, the Democratic party office is closed on election night; gatherings have been forestalled by the pandemic. On a chilly night across southwest Ohio, where Covid-19 cases are at record levels, few people ventured out around Greene County to soak up any atmosphere on Tuesday night.

In the morning, things are not much clearer, with results in seven battleground states still out.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. I don't get cocky about elections [but] it looks like it's a tough nut to crack [for Biden]," says Doris Adams, chairwoman of Greene county's Democratic party. "Our people here pulled out all the stops. We did what we could do; we worked and worked."

Early in the day, she’s pessimistic about the outcome. “It doesn’t look particularly good right now in the states that are left, but we’ll see how things go.”