Inside a Republican election party as celebrations descend into disappointment and fraud claims
Arizona Republicans do election night differently.
At a plush country club in the suburb of Scottsdale, surrounded by palm trees, with multiple bars, pop music pumping and piles of pizza, local members celebrated ahead of the inevitable red tsunami.
Yet that nationwide Republican surge never materialised – it was more of a ripple than a wave.
Proceedings at this “watch party” began with a prayer, the crowd pledged alliance to the US, and the national anthem was sung.
A bundle of red, white and blue balloons was attached to the ceiling in a large net, ready to be dropped at the moment of victory.
The star of the Arizona GOP show is Kari Lake, the Trump-backed, election-denying candidate for governor.
At 10pm, with the results far from clear, she took to the stage to cheers and chants from supporters.
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Ms Lake soon made reference to “cheaters and crooks”.
“How do you get free and fair elections?”, she said. “You have to fight to make them fair and free.”
Kari Lake is a so-called “election denier” who has cast doubt over Joe Biden’s 2020 win.
Tuesday’s voting in the state was marred by technical problems with voting machines, as well as queues up to two hours long.
During lulls in the evening, activists sat in front of giant screens watching the overnight results show on the right-wing Fox News network.
Those we spoke to were disappointed and downhearted.
One man complained about the threat of Marxism in the US.
A retired woman suggested there was clear evidence of fraud in recent contests. There is no evidence of this.
Others drowned their sorrows.
By the time we left the event at 2.30am, it was almost deserted, with hotel staff cleaning up and the net of balloons still undropped.
Arizona’s slate of Trump-endorsed candidates still have a shot at victory, but it will be closer than they had hoped.