AUDIO: The weird world of American elections: Guardian US journalist Adam Gabbatt lets us in

on November 8, 2016

Politics is a serious business, especially when it comes to choosing the next leader of the ‘Free World’. Usually. During the protracted process of selecting a president, Guardian US journalist Adam Gabbatt has been handed some intriguing assignments.

Gabbatt recently spent a night in a bar in Manhattan watching the Presidential debate with the New York Young Republicans. “It was jarring watching the election with them,” he says.

Having listened to people talk so bluntly on issues such as abortion, he notes that the atmosphere at these events was often rowdy — more like football matches.

“It was hard to hear what was being said. I probably heard less than fifty percent of it because people were shouting at the TV.”

What was audible was often rather unconventional, though.

“It was ridiculous: at one  point Trump said he wouldn’t concede the election. That got the biggest cheer of the night!”

While watching one debate in a casino in Pennsylvania, Gabbatt was clearly taken aback by the energy. The noise was relentless and “Trump supporters were wearing t-shirts. One guy had a hat covered in badges saying, among other things ‘Hillary for Prison'”.

Americans and Republican’s in particular, seem to buy into the election process and its sense of occasion.

bar-debatePerhaps the most bizarre experience of the 2016 Presidential Election for the man from the Guardian was meeting early Republican candidate Jim Gilmore.

At the start of the selection process, during the Primaries, there were 15 Republican candidates. At that point “Everyone is so desperate for attention that they will do anything with you.

“Gilmore is a legitimate guy, He was the Governor of Virginia for four years, a member of the NRA. A proper politician”

He had just competed in Iowa and received a dozen votes — an astonishingly low return from the 100,000 votes cast. Gabbatt was lucky enough to attend Gilmore’s very next campaign event at a diner in New Hampshire. No one turned up. At all.

When Gabbatt announced himself to member of staff to say he was here for the Jim Gilmore Presidential campaign event, the waitress replied: “Who’s that? I’ve never heard of him…..”.

What happened next would be a shock to any political reporter: Gilmore “went round all the people eating: none of them the diners had heard of him either.”

Listen to the full interview here:

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