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WORLD | 05-11-2020 15:26

In Biden's hometown, supporters, journalists play waiting game

In Joe Biden's hometown of Wilmington, everyone is anxiously waiting for the winner of the knife-edge presidential election to be announced. 

In Joe Biden's hometown of Wilmington, residents anxiously check their phones for updates and run errands to keep themselves busy, as journalists twiddle their thumbs in hotel lobbies – all waiting for the winner of the knife-edge presidential election to be announced. 

"It's exhausting. I've had maybe two hours of sleep since Tuesday," says 55-year-old Zanthia Oliver, who has just been elected to a second term on Wilmington's city council. 

As of Thursday morning, Democratic challenger Biden was edging closer to the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, as US President Donald Trump's campaign filed several legal challenges to the ongoing vote count. 

Biden supporter Oliver was trying to distract herself as the pain-staking process of counting votes drags on in five states, including the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

"I'm just running some errands, just trying to keep busy" she tells AFP, after depositing a check at a Bank of America downtown. 

Oliver says she has been fielding calls throughout the night from friends wanting to know when the election is going to be called and if it is going to go the way of Wilmington's favourite son. 

"At 2am I was up drinking some sleepy tea. Three o'clock I ate a banana, I'm washing clothes. It must be the adrenaline because I can't sleep," she adds.

A short distance away, outside the public library in the sleepy city of 70,000 people – where Biden lived for more than three decades while he was a senator before becoming Barack Obama's vice-president – 58-year-old Deon Backus is taking a philosophical approach. 

"There ain't nothing you can do apart from just hope for the best," he tells AFP, adding that he has only been watching the television news on and off. 

"I just watch 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I don't get stressed out over it. My wife, she's the one it's driving crazy, not me," adds the longshoreman.

'Frenzy'

On the main shopping thoroughfare of Market Street, 38-year-old Jason Williams is refreshing the results on the MSNBC app on his phone. 

"Every few minutes I'm looking at it," says the maintenance technician.

"I'm a little anxious. I want to find out who's gonna be the next president. I guess everybody is like in a frenzy." 

A little over one mile away, at the Chase Center Riverfront, the home of Biden's election headquarters, hundreds of media from around the globe wait for updates.

In between broadcasts from the venue's parking lot, they pass time idly in the adjacent Westin hotel, anxious to know if Biden will become America's 46th president.

Williams thinks they might have their answer on Friday but fellow Wilmington resident Backus is prepared for a longer wait.

"I truly hope Joe's gonna do it," says Backus.

"But I'm thinking it might be another week and a half or two weeks before we find out. And then it's still got to go back and forth through the courts," he adds, referring to Trump's legal challenges.

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by Peter Hutchinson, AFP

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