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Canberra
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts

Democrats Abroad in Canberra sweat the race to 270

Members of Democrats Abroad Canberra have parked themselves in front of PJ O’Reilly’s projector in Civic today for a US Presidential election watch party, hopeful their candidate, Joe Biden, would receive the 270 Electoral College votes required to claim victory.

11am marked the first beer of the day and the crowd openly discussed their feelings and their country’s future.

Many told Canberra Weekly they were scared.

But if they were, it didn’t show.  

The pub was loud, conversation flowing and the mood jovial, if not with a touch of nervous energy.

Laura from Wisconsin said she was worried about the way the world would view America if Trump was re-elected.

First time voter Nikhil James Clementi said he believed there would be violence in American streets, regardless of who won.

The early votes came in and Biden took a strong lead.

CNN host John King began adding disclaimers for “mail-in voting” suggesting they had swung to Biden’s advantage.

By 2pm Mr King was strongly advising his audience “to slow down” and “not look at the map” as Biden’s lead began to disappear.

Republican Senators and Trump supporters Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham reclaimed their seats and received loud boos from the crowd.

By 3.30pm a result looked distant and the crowd deflated.

Faces were poised with concentration as most people took to scrolling on their phone.

For all the controversy of the past four years, the 2020 election began to take on a very 2016 feel, with US commentators predicting “the blue wall” of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, broken by Trump in 2016, might again be the difference.

“It’s a divided country, so it’s a close election,” CNN host Jake Tapper said. 

By 4pm the only significant difference from 2016 was Arizona, which Biden led by 200,000 votes.

Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly looked likely to flip the seat previously held by Republican Martha McSally, who filled the seat after the death of long-time Senator John McCain. 

A projected Biden win in Virginia pepped up the crowd and took him to 205 electoral college votes to Trump’s 114.

Meanwhile Texas with its 38 electoral college votes was too close to call.

The Democrats has hoped to turn Texas blue for many elections, but the disappointment of Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 mid-term loss appeared to end that speculation.

By COB Wednesday Australian time, Trump had snuck up to 132 with an unsurprisingly strong showing in the South. 

It appears Trump was winning in Florida while Biden was leading in Wisconsin.

“It’s an incomplete picture,” John King said as the tense crowd settled in for a nervous wait.

No one was willing to make predictions.

“It’s a lot closer than we thought. That’s all I’ll say,” a Democrat supporter said.

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