It's Election Day - OZY | A Modern Media Company

It's Election Day

It's Election Day

By OZY Editors

By OZY Editors

We’ve finally arrived. Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been campaigning, in effect, for more than three years. Americans have been casting their ballots — in record numbers — since September. And now it’s the first Tuesday in November, a day of anticipation and trepidation, and in all likelihood one that won’t provide the resolution Americans are seeking — with counts and challenges expected to last for days and weeks to come. Check back here throughout Election Day and beyond (if needed) for the latest exit polling updates and results, as well as some on-the-ground coverage from OZY’s dedicated team. Democracy is happening. Soak it up.

— Senior Editor Daniel Malloy (in Pilot, N.C.), Senior Politics Reporter Nick Fouriezos (in Philadelphia) and Reporter Joshua Eferighe (in Milwaukee)


Daniel Malloy & Nick Fouriezos
Fox News Calls a Race Prematurely … and Pisses Off Trump
Wednesday, Nov. 4. 12 a.m. ET

Arizona — a critical state to the outcome of this race — is reporting its results in huge chunks rather than the dribble we’re used to. The first big splash from Maricopa County, mostly of early and mail votes, shows Biden with a 200,000-vote advantage — but with still potentially 1 million votes outstanding.

The networks have been incredibly cautious on calls, given the uncertainty of results this year, but Fox News had seen enough: it called the race for Biden and Democratic Senate hopeful Mark Kelly. Cue the outrage from the Trump and Sen. Martha McSally camps.

So can Trump really come back? If the state has historic turnout like we’ve seen elsewhere and Trump wins the remaining vote by a 60-40 margin, then he has an outside shot. But at this point what we do know is that Arnon Mishkin has another moment in the spotlight. The head of Fox’s decision desk — who has maintained strict independence from the network’s conservative opinion side — stood up to Karl Rove in 2012 and first called that Democrats had won control of the House of Representatives in 2018.


Nick Fouriezos
Democrats Got What They Wanted in the Rio Grande Valley. And Then They Didn’t.
Tuesday, Nov. 3. 10:15 p.m. ET

Texas Democrats were well aware that they would need to convert the Rio Grande Valley — particularly the Latino-heavy counties of Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy — in order to paint the state blue. The key was boost turnout in this reliably Democratic area over 2016: And indeed, the early vote suggested that they were eclipsing the numbers of four years ago, and shooting past them … presenting the path toward a potentially blue Texas after Kamala Harris visited McAllen in the race’s closing days. 

The only problem? The RGV counties showed up, but their voters seemingly didn’t back Biden at nearly the same rate they did Clinton. The two biggest counties, Hidalgo and Cameron, are giving Biden 55-43 and 59-40 margins with nearly all the votes tallied — compared to Clinton’s 68-28 and 64-32 margins, respectively. While smaller, Starr as well saw a dip (and Willacy, the smallest of the four, had not reported its results as of 10 p.m. ET). The results build off a trend that emerged early in Florida, as well: Of the Biden campaign struggling to win over Hispanic voters at the rates that past Democrats have. And while Texas was not pivotal to the outcome — Trump is ahead by about 200,000 votes, but it hasn’t yet been called — this performance spells potential trouble in Arizona, another state that Biden hoped to flip where the Latino vote will loom large.


Daniel Malloy
Tuesday Nov. 3, 9:30 p.m. ET

It’s 9:30 p.m. Do you know where your counties are? Here’s how our key locations are looking, at least the ones that are reporting meaningful results so far.

Miami-Dade County, Florida. See below: Trump’s overperformance there is all but certainly going to win him the state.

Macomb County, Michigan. It’s still early going here: Less than half the vote is in, and Trump is way ahead. But the Democrat-leaning mail in votes are likely to close this gap, and the count is expected to take a while.

Alamance County, North Carolina. Biden is overperforming here with nearly all votes in — trailing Trump by about 4 percentage points, while Hillary Clinton lost by 13. Those kinds of results, plus Biden hitting his numbers in Raleigh and Charlotte, have him ahead for now — but Trump is closing fast.

Lawrence County, Ohio. With a little more than half the vote in, Trump is running at about a 2-to-1 advantage, slightly less than he pulled four years ago but close enough so he hasn’t seen a feared big decline in Appalachia.


Nick Fouriezos
The Cuban Americans Lifting Trump in Florida
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Sunshine State was predicted to be close, with Biden given a slight advantage due to his purported gains with senior voters and his cutting into the margins of Trump with white, non-college educated voters. However, there were signs that Biden was leaking Latino voters, which we pointed out in July. Those warnings became reality early on election night, with Hispanic heavy Miami-Dade County reporting a Biden lead of only about 54 percent to 46 percent over Trump. 

That was far below the advantage Clinton showed in the county, which she won by a 64 to 34 percent — and it’s the main reason Trump has emerged as the heavy favorite, with some outlets going so far as to call the state for him. And while we won’t know until the full exit polls are out exactly how much of that shift was due to Hispanic voters, it’s likely a significant factor. In September, we profiled Alex Otaola, a Cuban transplant who has built an audience of hundreds of thousands with his Spanish-language YouTube show — which he has used to push pro-Trump policies since he defected from the Democrats in 2018, with Otaola saying that the influence of people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez had soured the former Barack Obama voter on the party.

He is of course but one man. But Otaola’s shift reflected the views of many Cuban and Venezuelan Floridians whom the Trump campaign has heavily courted, canvassing the state with Spanish ads and repeatedly decrying socialism as part of their campaign pitch. “In both surveys and focus groups, we saw the impact of YouTube personalities like Alex Otaola,” wrote Carlos Odio, head of Democratic Latino research firm Equis Labs in a July voter analysis.

The Biden campaign realized they needed to win Miami, even sending Obama to the city in the closing days. But Cuban Americans like Otaola led major GOTV efforts, including pro-Trump car rallies. And Rey Anthony Lastre, co-chair of the Cuban American Republicans of Florida, said back in September that Hispanics were being galvanized by the perceived far-left turn of Democrats over the summer. 

In Miami, Black Lives Matter protesters have been seen “waving flags of Cesar Chavez, of Fidel’s communist movement … even in the mainstream Spanish press, they were describing the protesters as Marxist, socialist, things you would never see said in the English press,” Lastre says. If Biden does lose Florida, Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade appear to be a major reason why.


The Counties to Watch
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7:00 p.m. ET

As the polls start to close in key states, here is what we’re tracking. For those who are subscribed to the Daily Dose newsletter, you already got this in your inbox.

1. Erie County, Pennsylvania (polls close 8 p.m. ET)

While a full count will take days in this year’s ground zero battleground state, keep a close eye on the county in Pennsylvania’s far northwest corner: This working-class area along Lake Erie, battered by the coronavirus recession, has correctly picked the winner of the past seven statewide elections, and will be a window into how the oft-scrutinized Obama-Trump voters are leaning. Read more on OZY.

2. Miami-Dade County, Florida (polls close 7 p.m. ET)

If Trump takes Florida again, he will have the Latino vote to thank. There are ample signs he’s improved among this group in part by tagging Democrats as socialists, a troublesome label for people whose families fled Cuba or Venezuela. The activism of Cuban critics like conservative YouTube star Alex Otaola is playing a role in majority-Latino Miami-Dade. Hillary Clinton took 63 percent of the vote here in 2016 and netted 300,000 votes. If Trump can slice into that margin, he holds his new home state. Read more on OZY.

3. Kenosha County, Wisconsin (polls close 9 p.m. ET)

Trump narrowly won this suburban Milwaukee county in 2016, and the question is whether it will join the suburban blue shift toward Biden or whether this summer’s Jacob Blake shooting and accompanying violence will help drive home Trump’s law-and-order message. Trump held an election eve rally in Kenosha amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the area. “He did as well as he could” in handling the pandemic, said Luigi Lacson, an immigrant from the Philippines who works in health care, at the Trump rally. “It doesn’t matter which politician was in office; it was going to be a problem because it’s a new virus we don’t know how to handle, and I think we’ve learned a lot.”

4. Macomb County, Michigan (polls close 8 p.m. ET)

This suburban Detroit county was the subject of a classic 1985 study of “Reagan Democrats,” and the largely white area reliant on the auto industry has continued to be a bellwether. The county went for Obama twice, then swung substantially to Trump in 2016 — the president won here by 11 percentage points, netting nearly 50,000 votes (his statewide margin was less than 11,000). The suburbs have been brutal for Trump across the country, and he needs this one if he wants to hang onto his most perilous “blue wall” state. 

5. Maricopa County, Arizona (polls close 9 p.m. ET)

Maricopa County was once a conservative bastion that elected nativist Sheriff Joe Arpaio a dozen times. However, a third of its 4.5 million residents are Latino, and the Phoenix suburbs are undergoing the same shift away from Trump that much of the nation’s burbs are seeing. The majority of Arizonans live in this massive county, and it will tell the story of how this state swings.

6. Alamance County, North Carolina (polls close 7:30 p.m. ET)

Long a conservative stronghold, this county went for Trump by 13 points last time. But as it becomes home to more commuters to Greensboro and the Research Triangle area, it could see some of the same suburban anti-Trump shift. Alamance was also the scene of an ugly confrontation over the weekend when police officers pepper-sprayed protesters blocking traffic as part of a march to an early-vote site. If Trump’s margins narrow here, it’s bad news for the president.

7. Gwinnett County, Georgia (polls close 7 p.m. ET)

If Biden is to pull off the upset, it will start in the state’s second-largest county, Gwinnett, a stunningly diverse Atlanta suburb that Democrats are hoping to run up a 60-40 advantage in — although if polls suggesting that Trump has made marginal gains with Hispanic, Asian American and even Black voters are true, that may be difficult. 

8. Hidalgo, Willacy, Starr and Cameron Counties, Texas (polls close 8 p.m. ET)

We’re giving you four for the price of one here to examine the Rio Grande Valley. Statewide, Texans passed their entire 2016 turnout in early voting, with Trump-skeptical suburbs giving Dems hope. However, Team Blue must also boost Latino turnout here to win. While initial enthusiasm lagged, the Hispanic-heavy RGV counties have exploded since Kamala Harris campaigned in McAllen, in Hidalgo County, on Friday. These four poor, majority-Latino counties consistently rank among the lowest turnout rates in the country — and three of them surpassed their 2016 votes before Election Day even began. Read more on OZY.

9. Clark County, Nevada (polls close 10 p.m. ET)

Nearly three-quarters of Nevadans live in Las Vegas’ Clark County, and Biden likely needs to win that region by at least 10 percentage points — Clinton won Clark by about 11 points and won Nevada by about 2.5 points. Through early and mail ballots, Democrats have already built a formidable 90,000 vote edge that indicates a late push by Trump here in this reach state will come up short.

10. Lawrence County, Ohio (polls close 7:30 p.m. ET)

Four rural towns that Trump won with at least three-fifths of the vote have now elected Democratic mayors by roughly the same margin. If that is indicative of a larger white, working-class shift toward Biden in Appalachia, then Trump could be in major trouble. Ironton, which sits in Lawrence County, is emblematic of this trend, as it elected a 28-year-old Democrat as its mayor in a landslide. Read more on OZY.


Joshua Eferighe 
Waukesha, Wisconsin
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 4:30 PM CT

Long a Republican stronghold, Waukesha County outside Milwaukee has started to inch toward Democrats in recent years — with the suburban revolt against President Donald Trump raising questions about whether this county could go blue for the first time since 1964. 

Walking the streets on a sunny Election Day, I encounter Tony Acusta, 48, a Mexican immigrant, who has been an owner of Starship Records for 16 out of the 36 years he’s been living in Waukesha County. He voted for Trump in 2016, and came to regret it. “That was a mistake. I did vote thinking that he [Trump] was going to do something good, but he didn’t. He was talking about businesses and everything, but a big mistake.” 

A different tune came from Vern Hagstrom, a 63-year-old insurance salesman and former small-business owner. He voted Republican this year, as he has in the past. Like those at the Trump rally Monday night, he appeared unconcerned with the surging rates of coronavirus in Wisconsin — with more than 5,300 new cases reported statewide today. “I don’t believe in hand-washing constantly because I’m old school,” he tells me as he takes a slow drag off of his cigar. We’re in Nice Ash cigar bar, where no one is wearing a mask and where he, clearly, is at home. “I was born in the fifties and was raised as being exposed to build your immunity. It was proven by doctors in the late eighties, nineties, that all these hand sanitizers were actually breaking down our immune system,” he continues. 

Besides being old school, he simply didn’t feel like COVID-19 was a big enough threat, telling me it’s “just a fart in the wind.” Meanwhile Acusta thinks much differently. When I asked him how Trump was handling the virus, he replies: “He’s not handling it right. Money is not more important than life. I’ll sacrifice right on the boat with all of us as long as all as we’re all safe and not getting sick. Right now greediness is killing us.”


Nick Fouriezos
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 1:30 PM

The polls at William D. Kelley public school, named after an avid abolitionist and friend to Abraham Lincoln, are particularly crucial to turnout in a number of North Philadelphia West wards — a reliably Democrat and mostly Black region where Biden needs high turnout to overcome the losses of the Clinton campaign in 2016. Which is why it was so strikingly worrisome when local election managers had to call the police on a purported “voter protection” volunteer who they accused of intimidating and misleading voters.

The trouble started around noon and continued into the early afternoon, as the white volunteer — who claimed he was with the PA Democrats — refused to leave the polling site despite his credential clearly showing he was only approved to be in another ward. The election judge and a retired local cop, who said he was a local Democratic councilman but refused to give his name, said the volunteer was harassing voters inside the polling location, asking them who they were voting for and telling some that they couldn’t fill out a provisional ballot — which the judge said was incorrect. “His goal was to disrupt,” she said. 

The volunteer grew frustrated, complaining that he wasn’t being allowed inside. When the judge and the retired cop asked him to produce his documents, he insisted his bosses had told him to work that ward and wouldn’t leave until one of his supervisors came. “They were giving inaccurate information to voters. I was trying to address that as quietly as I could … but I won’t stand here and be harassed,” the volunteer finally said, about an hour later, only leaving just as police arrived on the scene.

The disruption came as President Trump has repeatedly called for Republicans to serve as poll watchers while alleging widespread voter fraud, which most experts agree is a false claim. “Make sure your governor doesn’t cheat,” Trump told Pennsylvanians at a rally in Scranton yesterday. “We have a lot of eyes watching, a lot of very powerful eyes here.” This volunteer claimed he was working for Democrats, and his manager, who arrived on the scene after the initial confrontation, also said so. Names have been withheld for now, as this reporter wasn’t present for the volunteer’s initial actions, although he witnessed the aftermath. Regardless, the incident exemplified the high tensions in Philadelphia and other cities across America, on an Election Day many feared would be explosive given the president’s rhetoric.


Daniel Malloy
Pilot, N.C. 
Tuesday November 3, 9 a.m. ET

Everyone has their own reasons for filling in the oval for their preferred candidate. And voters in this small rural town about a half hour outside of Raleigh are largely supportive of President Donald Trump — but took wildly different routes to get there. Take Rose Dry, 62, who cites Trump’s “Christian beliefs” as her chief reason to support him. When pressed about Joe Biden, she grins through her mask and says only: “God bless him,” with a laugh.

Then there’s Frank Agnello, 77, a Vietnam War veteran whose boisterous support of the president more resembles the Trump of TV and Twitter. “He’s running the country like a business, like it should be running, and he’s not taking no crap from nobody,” Agnello says. “These Democrats, they try to put everything on him. They blame him for the coronavirus. That’s bullshit, because what did he do, go to China and bring it in here?” Agnello adds. “It’s ridiculous. They’re like little kids. I hope he gets back in and gets the Democrats out of office. They’re nothing but a bunch of Satan worshippers,” Agnello says, repeating a trope associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

And then there’s the young woman in an East Carolina University sweatshirt, who declined to give her name, after saying her mom had made her get out of bed and get to the polls this morning. “I just like Donald Trump. I don’t really pay attention to politics, to be honest.”

Nick Fouriezos
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 12 p.m. ET

Back in January, I was here on this same street in North Philadelphia West, the one with the gutted homes and scarred murals, where row homes wear their grief on their sleeve, often in graffiti epitaphs to lost loved ones. Black Voices for Trump, an extension of the president’s campaign, was here in this unlikely territory … a poor, predominantly Black part of town ripped apart by unemployment and recession, that had voted reliably Democrat for decades. As Paris Dennard, a Black Republican ally to the president, told me while standing beneath a photo of Black Jesus at the Last Supper: “They’ll know what [Trump] has done, and they may not have known before.”

Nearly a year later, though — after COVID and the subsequent recession blunted Trump’s rhetoric about historic Black unemployment, among other things — folks in this part of Philly haven’t quite made that same conclusion. They note that even in Trump’s record economy for the stock market, little of that had been felt in this area, where unemployment was already at 20 percent even in 2018. With the pandemic raging, things have only gotten worse. 



Campaign signs and a mural eulogy adorn the boarded up walls of buildings in North Philadelphia West, an area the Trump campaign visited in January to win over Black voters but which is expected to vote heavily Democratic on Election Day.

“We’re out here every single day for the last 16 years, right here,” laughs Steven Roundtree, pointing to the block around one polling spot, the Cecil B. Moore Library, where a half dozen locals drink from brown paper bags. “I voted for Biden because he was our vice president. Donald Trump, he isn’t a politician at all, and I don’t like that: He doesn’t know the world.” 

Neighborhoods like these, in West and North Philly, are expected to vote disproportionately Democrat. But Democrats need more than their support: They need large turnout, after depressed numbers in 2016 partially led to Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania in 2016. Around noon, and a little before, the area is quiet, although a few voters have turned up (before work, and after work, are typically the busy times on Election Day). It’s hard to tell whether most have already voted by mail, or early voted, as Roundtree did for Biden last week — he says enthusiasm has been high, and he himself backed Obama twice but sat out other elections.

“It was already hard to find a job before COVID. Now it’s twice as hard,” says Roundtree, a day laborer who picks up odd jobs to help support his son with cerebral palsy. “I don’t need free money. I want to work for my money. I think Trump is not the leader that we need.” 


Joshua Eferighe 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7:30 a.m. CT

Tamar Malone, 22 and Antonio Hampton, 41, are feeling hopeful. In a state where Trump won by a mere percentage point in 2016, they felt personally responsible for their precinct, where turnout dropped almost five percentage points from 2012 to ‘16. “It was those that felt like, ‘Um, yes, a lot of stuff is going on, but it don’t go on in my household. So it doesn’t apply to me.’ And when it doesn’t apply to you, they feel like they don’t have to get involved,” Malone says. 

It’s why she, Hampton and others in Count Every Vote have been so eager to explain why it does matter. “Usually we do door to door and we stay on it. But this year, since the pandemic, we’ve been doing phone calls and phone banking,” Hampton tells me adding, “we got over 200,000 calls made. We’ve sent over 90,000 texts.”  

Another reason is that there weren’t any compelling candidates. At least that’s what Cole Bell, 41, who was with her mother Patricia Bell, 60, and daughter Natia Bell, 18 -— three generations of women who have never missed an election — tells me. “Obama wasn’t there [in 2016]. People thought it wasn’t a reason to vote, they weren’t motivated for it,” she says outside of an elementary school in the Park West neighborhood after casting her ballot. 

Hampton and Malone are now banking on their efforts to bring enough people out so if it comes down to a couple hundred votes, they can say they did their part  “When we canvas, we canvas the neighborhoods that people don’t want to canvas,” Hampton says. 

And for the most part it’s been working. When I arrived at the polling station at 7:30 a.m., Solomon Stewart, 55, who decided to volunteer for this year for the first time, told me there was a crowd lined up outside the doors waiting for it to open at 7. Stewart is a frequent voter — voting Democrat in the past three presidential elections — but felt like this year he needed to do more. “I wanted to see if I could get as many people involved as possible. I think we need a change and I’m hoping we can do that today,” he says. 


Daniel Malloy
Pilot, North Carolina
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 8:00 a.m. ET

In the small town of Pilot, N.C., beyond the far edges of the Raleigh suburbs, the local fire station had about a 45-minute wait to cast ballots during the morning rush. Sean Skaggs, 50, who works in aerospace and is a Baptist pastor, said he sees far more enthusiasm for Trump around these parts than four years ago, from his neighbors and members of his church. “I think there was a lot of apprehension [in 2016] because of his past — not that he’s a bad person or anything — but he just kind of says stuff, he cusses,” Skaggs says. But Trump delivered on a pro-life, pro-gun agenda in his first term. Plus, notes Skaggs, who is white, Trump has made strides in helping the Black community. “When all the riots started, there was one thing that really stuck out with me. There was an older Black gentleman, I want to guess he was my age. And he lived in inner-city Chicago and he was like, ‘We can’t go out at nighttime. And it’s not the police. It’s young Black men.’ You sit there and you think: I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to worry about that at all. I don’t have to worry about that for my kids. I just sit there and I think there’s got to be some way to make everybody’s lives to where you can feel I have the freedom to go do whatever I want to do and be whatever I want to be. And I just feel like that’s the message that [Trump] sends.”

Image from iOS (15) copy

A line of voters (far left) in the early morning rush at a fire station in Pilot, N.C.

While Trump has made some inroads, Black voters by and large disagree. That includes Darfield Jones, 66, who retired from a career in manufacturing. He left the fire station a few minutes later, having cast his ballot for Biden. “He came in crooked and he’s going out crooked, that’s the way I see it,” Jones says of Trump, citing the president’s refusal to release his tax returns. As for Biden? “It’s going to take him two years just to straighten out what Trump’s done.”


Nick Fouriezos
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7:30 a.m. ET

Vince Procopio is feeling the spirit. “I hate the hypocrisy,” the 60-year-old says, talking animatedly to a group of three other Trump supporters in line to vote on this chilly Tuesday morning. “It’s not OK to go to church, but it’s OK to protest? If you have half a brain, you can’t help but see it … or maybe you just don’t have Fox News on your TV. And if you watch CNN for five minutes, then you’re gonna hate Trump.”

When asked about his profession, the tall Italian with a “Semper Fi” beanie says he is “a professional gambler,” before clarifying: “Poker, that sort of thing.” Procopio is a registered Democrat who voted twice for Obama before backing Trump four years ago. His story isn’t all that uncommon in this South Philly district, the 26th ward, one of only three to back Trump — narrowly, with a 50.2 to 47.03 percent split — over Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

Historically a blue-collar neighborhood full of Italian and Irish immigrants, the 26th has diversified in the last decade, with growing Asian and Hispanic transplants. And that makes it a useful bellwether, perhaps not of the city (which will almost certainly back Biden) but of the state, where many white, working-class workers have defected from the Democratic Party. 


Joyce Nelson, 60, a South Philly resident, came prepared with a folding chair, although the lines weren’t too long.


ASouth Philly election site in Ward 26, one of just there wards in Philadelphia where a (slight) majority backed Trump in 2016.


Emily Aponte and Ibn Craddock

The tightness of the race statewide can be felt across the voting lines in South Philly, where the tension is palpable. “I’m a first-generation American, so my mom, brother and dad can’t vote. I’m here for them,” says Emily Aponte, whose family is originally from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old is frustrated: She recently found out her 2016 absentee ballot for Clinton was tossed out without her knowledge. Plus, she lost her job in the service industry amidst the pandemic. “It’s been weeks. People can’t find jobs here. It’s really hard. Politicians should have to live on minimum wage for a year before they go into office, so they can understand what it’s like to be the majority of Americans.” 

Would she think differently of Trump if he had passed more significant economic relief during the COVID outbreak? “Possibly, yeah,” she says, which causes her companion, Ibn Craddock, 24, to pipe up: “What, just because he gave you a wad of cash?” Aponte clarifies: “I’m not saying I would have voted for him, but it may have changed my opinion of him.”

Across a chain-link fence, a truck flies by with a Trump supporter shouting “Four more years!” This rattles both Aponte and Craddock. It’s been a stressful day already. “I’ve already gone through my cigarette and am feeling I need something stronger,” Craddock says. “I should have rolled up a blunt,” Aponte nods in agreement.


Joshua Eferighe
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Monday, Nov. 2, 10.30 p.m. CT

Kenosha is dark. And cold. But if you travel the winding unlit back roads leading to the small airport where President Donald Trump held his rally tonight, as I did, you’ll see beams of berry red and blue lighting the sky and a pilgrimage of trekkers making their way from distant parking lots to the empty field. 

POTUS was supposed to start at 7 p.m. CST. He was 45 minutes late. 

As I made my almost 2-mile journey to the entrance, there were many already walking back, disappointed at not having gotten prime seats in the basin of the rally. As I stand in line, I hear POTUS starting … with the “YMCA” song, of course. People dance. So I ask a Filipino couple who have been living in the States for 30 years some questions. 

Luigi Lacson works in health care on instruments that test for the coronavirus. “I think it’s real,” he says, “but as long as you take precautions, it will be OK.” And when I ask what he thought about the president’s response to the virus, he says: “He did as well as he could. It doesn’t matter which politician was in office; it was going to be a problem because it’s a new virus we don’t know how to handle, and I think we’ve learned a lot. I think we should talk about the mortality rate. When you’re young, the mortality is low. It’s when you’re older where you have to be more careful.” 

So what’s their No. 1 issue and reason for supporting the president? For my wife and I, we’re both Christian, so we’re both pro-life. We also like the economy. I can tell that the economy has gotten really well. I know my retirement has almost doubled.” 

But what about Trump’s oft-criticized behavior? Those are “valid,” Luigi says. “I wish he was more polished. But policy trumps behavior.” Glenda Lacson adds her two cents: “He’s not a pastor; he’s a politician. In the Bible, there are examples of God calling those with a past for leadership.”

By the time I make it into the rally, Trump is playing a montage of “sleepy” Joe Biden on the jumbo screen, offering a compilation of his opponent’s most egregious gaffes: misspeaks and fumbles. The crowd laughs. 

“Under the Biden lockdown, there will be no schools, no graduation, no weddings, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no Fourth of July, no nothing. There will be no future for America’s youth,” the president tells his fans.

“Four more years! Four more years!” the crowd chants in response.

At a nearby food truck, I encounter Carly Thomas, 19, who declares that Trump “stands on what he believes in, he doesn’t go back and forth and he tells the truth. He doesn’t lie. He keeps to what he says.” Thomas isn’t wearing a mask and is not bothered by the fact that Wisconsin is going through a coronavirus surge. “It doesn’t really scare me,” she says. “Because for my age, if I got it, it wouldn’t be a problem.” And what if she spreads it? “Spreading it? For the virus to get out of your system, you have to catch it. You get it and then you’re immune to it, pretty much.”

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