US election results: Five US voters who changed the race

About 160 million Americans – the most in US history – cast their votes for president this election, but the results held some surprises.

Donald Trump pulled in more Latino support than expected in some key states – decisively, perhaps, in Florida – while Joe Biden was able to convince many young progressives (the more liberal-leaning wing of the Democratic Party) to vote for him.

Although Biden has been declared the winner, Democrats will have to think hard about how they do better with some minority communities and people without university degrees.

And Republicans will have to find a way to pull back members of their own party who feel turned off by Trumpism.

We talked to five voters who represent a demographic that helped sway the election results.

(Note: The exit poll statistics we use are preliminary exit poll results. You can learn more about it here.)

Christopher Badillo is a young progressive who reluctantly voted for Joe Biden. Of voters 18-29, 62% of them voted for Joe Biden.

What does this moment mean for you?

This is the start of the work, not the end. We need to get back to work. I need to go back into my community and start doing the work to organise for a Democratic infrastructure that will actually make progressive change. In my area of Florida, the Democrats have lost a lot of local seats. We need to reflect on how we build up Democratic candidates that serve the community but who can also win.

Why did so many first-time voters come out for Biden?

I think my generation is more politicised than any generation before. That means we’re more involved and more informed about politics. The large voter turnout didn’t necessarily come from enthusiasm for Joe Biden, but more from an understanding that Donald Trump is the most dangerous president that we’ve had in modern history. I think a lot of young people saw Joe Biden as the only other alternative.

How does the country come together?

If we’re going to define unity as everybody coming together and singing in the streets, that’s just not going to happen. We’re going to have to work to get ourselves to the point where we feel like our country is one. That’s going to be a long process because our systems are truly broken and it’s going to take all of us to put it back together.

Gabriel Montalvo is a Latino voter who switched from Democrat to Republican this year to cast his vote for Donald Trump. Over 32% of Latino voters went for Trump, more than was expected.

What does this moment mean for you?

The mainstream media has jumped the gun projecting that Biden will win the electoral college. Nothing has changed since yesterday and President Trump’s campaign has signalled that he will mount vigorous legal action in multiple swing states on Monday. The Americans political process continues and this is the media playing psychological warfare to make President Trump seem like a sore loser in the court of public opinion.

Why did so many Hispanic voters come out for Trump?

Prior to the 2016 election, I was a far-left Democrat. Beyond being a Democrat, I was a communist until I learned what the ideology really meant. I had my own “walk away” moment from thinking that way and the Trump campaign did a great job with actual outreach to the minority community. It seems like the Republican Party has gone back to its roots, where it’s not about that country club mentality. Lincoln was our first Republican president and he helped give people rights in the United States. The current president and administration has created a bigger tent for the Republican Party, and Trump was able to convey that message.

How does the country come together?

I do think the country can heal. There’s going to be people on either side that don’t support this election but it should never get to the point of violence. You have a right to protest but you do not have a right to riot. But Biden’s win is seen as disingenuous to a lot of us.

A’Kayla Sellers is a young African-American woman who fully supports Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. African-Americans came out in strong support of Joe Biden, with over 87% casting their vote for the former vice-president. A’Kayla’s state of South Carolina helped secure the nomination for Joe Biden in the primaries when he trounced Bernie Sanders among African-American voters in the state.

What does this moment mean for you?

This moment means so much to me because Biden is a glimmer of hope not just for Democrats, for all Americans. To make America equitable we need a sense of stability and normalcy. It was empowering for me to vote for Biden in South Carolina but it’s also discouraging because we are still a very Republican state.

Why did so many black women come out for Biden?

Being a black woman is not a monolith. Some of us live in cities, some of them are rural areas, so our needs are very different. But I think black women recognised that Biden and Harris would implement policies that are going to directly benefit us – health care, maternal mortality, school to prison pipeline. We came out because we knew that we had a duty to vote for them.

How does the country come together?

When Biden’s president, he’s not going be a president for the Democrats. He has stated firmly that he is a president for all, he is going to be a president for America. When he served as our vice-president, he was a vice-president to all. He’s going to provide policies and opportunities that’s going to affect everybody that’s going to make living here in America more equitable. He’s here to help everyone, not just one party.

Taylor Golden is a white woman who became energised about politics for the first time in 2016 – because of Trump. Over half of white women are believed to have cast their vote for Donald Trump in 2020.

What does this moment mean for you?

It’s so exhausting because Trump has been fighting his entire presidency. People never left him alone to let him do his job. I’m exhausted, I’m so tired of it. I’ve had to turn off social media and unplug and calm myself not to stress about it. I don’t believe in the results, Biden can’t legally become president yet. I believe that everything will be settled in the Supreme Court. If Biden does win, it’s going to be a crappy next four years. It will inspire me to get involved more for the next election with the Republicans in my town.

Why did so many white women come out for Trump?

I believe suburban white women are starting to wake up and get more involved. I think they definitely had an influence in the election, there were a ton of “women for Trump” groups that popped up that I was a part of. He has a lot of, a lot of female fans despite what the media says and what people would have you think. Every woman I know voted for him. I definitely had a sense we were going to make a difference.

How does the country come together?

I think we have so much division right now in our country, it’s heartbreaking. I think the truth will bring unity, whatever that truth is. I know that a lot of my Republicans friends, if Biden wins, we’re not going to go to the streets rioting and burning stuff. We will use our voice in a legal and peaceful way. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest differences – that the right is not controlled by radical emotion like the left, we control our emotion. So to bring unity I think the truth has to come out honestly.

James is a lifelong Republican who voted for Joe Biden. It was his first time voting for a Democrat. He represents the group of anti-Trump moderate Republicans and independents who were able to be swayed away from the president by Biden’s centrist enough policies.

What does this moment mean for you?

For me, it means the nation will return to a sense of civility in its politics. Biden is a seasoned politician who has all sorts of personal connections in the Senate. Even if the Senate remains in Republican hands, I believe that Biden as president will be able to reach across the aisle and get things done. This is the first time I’ve ever voted for a Democrat for president. The very first time. I’m looking forward to Trump being gone so I can become a Republican again.

Why did independents and moderate Republicans come out for Biden?

People are tired of a president that isn’t presidential. I’m interested in fiscal restraint. On social issues, I tend to be not conservative, but rather moderate. Look at what the president has done. The last four years have been a total mess. In a tweet by the president on election night, he refers to the polls and spells it p-o-l-e-s. This guy is not terribly smart and does not have an educated mind.

How does the country come together?

I fear that Trump will set himself up with his own TV network. Certainly a running commentary for the next four years as he seeks to run for president again in 2024. He will continue for the next four years to spout this nonsense about massive fraud and there’s no evidence of massive fraud. It’s just amazing to me the kind of stuff he says.

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