An Englishman in New York: Guardian US journalist Adam Gabbatt on covering the American Presidential Election

on November 8, 2016

The race to the White House is a long one. We may be at the final furlong but this has been an arduous, dramatic and highly contentious 18 month process. New York based Guardian journalist Adam Gabbatt, who has been living in America for the last five years, sees the outcome of this election as a watershed in his own life.

Leaving the country is a real possibility for Gabbatt if Donald Trump becomes President. He told me that “If Trump kick started the dismantling of Obamacare then I would give it serious thought.” The Republican candidate has spoken openly of his dislike of Barack Obama’s subsidised health care policy.

“People often joke that if Trump wins then they will leave the country. In reality, most people can’t.

“I can. For me it’s just a plane ride”

Having to pay for healthcare and planning a family could be potentially costly financial decisions. “If you get ill, if you want to have a child, you have to pay for all that.”

Medical facilities are not part of a National Health Service like here in Britain.

So why would the American public vote for a candidate that wants to repeal Obamacare?

Donald Trump’s rise to political prominence has been attributed to anti-establishment feelings. The billionaire tycoon represents a ‘protest vote’ much like the Brexit campaign in the UK. Gabbatt sees these similarities and has also seen first hand the clear divide in the US.

“It goes back a long time,” he says. In 2010 there was an influx of right wing candidates elected to office in the mid terms. “After Obama got elected for the first time in 2008, they voted in a lot of extreme right senators,” a group known as ‘The Tea Party‘. They “most likely don’t think abortion should be legal and don’t believe in subsidised health care” Gabbatt also believes they hold anti immigration sentiments.

Geographical divides

Much like the north and south of England during the EU Referendum, there are distinct geographical divides in the United States.

The coast are considered to be liberal, whereas the southern states favour the conservative values of the Republican party.



“All down the West Coast, those states vote Democrat: Washington, Oregon and California. Down the East Coast, particularly north east, New York and Pennsylvania tend to go Democratic as well. In the south – Texas and Mississippi, Alabama etcetera – they vote Republican.”  


Gabbatt sees the states in the middle of the country, Iowa and Ohio, to be key to this election, as they could be won by either major party.

“Those are the Swing States. They are what decides the election.”

We will find out on November 8th which way they swing.

Listen to the full interview here:


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