US election results: Joe Biden has called for unity but he may not find it in Arizona

·3-min read

It was early in the morning in Arizona when it became clear Joe Biden had won the election.

Within an hour, crowds had started to gather outside the State Capitol building in Phoenix. Within two hours, their numbers had swelled to many hundreds.

There have been protests here every day since the election, but today the mood was more tense, more defensive, and more hostile towards journalists.

The now familiar chants of "four more years, four more years" were joined with the newer sentiment: "Count the votes" and "Shame on Fox", a reference to the right-wing Fox News channel calling the state of Arizona for Mr Biden on election night.

The people here aren't just Republicans, they are people who truly love Donald Trump.

They feel heard by him and deeply fear a Biden administration.

"I'm young, I'm 24 years old, my husband is 26 years old," one woman told us. "We don't want our children to live in a communist or socialist-focused county."

When asked, many people mentioned socialism. Many also feel they will be economically worse off.

"There's a good chance I could lose my job," one man told us. "Basically the people on welfare will probably be doing better than the working person."

Another woman said: "I don't understand how anyone could vote for someone who hid in a closet for basically the duration of this campaign, and then he's voted to raise our taxes. He wants to open our borders, our borders!"

The state of Arizona still hangs in the balance, people here think the election does too. They passionately believe a president who claims fraud is at play.

We've asked many people if they would accept a Biden win in this election and the answer has been almost universally this: "Yes, but only if it's fair."

But it is unclear what it would take to convince these people this election is fair - they are claiming ballots haven't been counted, that fraudulent votes have been added, and that Trump voters have been disenfranchised.

In 2016, Mr Trump tapped into people's fears about corruption of the political elite and the political system.

He's using the same playbook now in defeat, exploiting deeply-held anxieties and it's working.

"Biden will not be my president," shouted one lady. "I will not accept him as president, he's a fraud. Kamala Harris is a fraud."

There were many people at this event very heavily armed: large rifles, pistols, stab vests and covered faces.

There are open carry laws here and no sign that these weapons would be used, but the tension was palpable.

But there were conciliatory voices too - one heavily-armed man told me he had lots of friends who supported Mr Biden.

"I have very good friends who are very anti-Trump, anti everything," he said. "I'm still friends with them. We just don't talk about politics. But if you choose to let politics ruin your relationships, that's not something I would do."

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It was an optimistic note amid the anger.

It's hard to see how this narrative won't persist and shape American politics in the coming months, even years.

Joe Biden has called for unity. He may not find it here.