PITTSBURGH — Like many Trump supporters, Dennis Tippie watched the steady tallying of votes that wiped away the president’s early lead in Pennsylvania, not with a faith that democracy was playing out but with dark and rising anger.
“If he does end up with that number of electoral votes,’’ he said of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is on his way to the White House thanks to Pennsylvania on Friday, “he would have gained them through fraud, deception and simple criminality.’’
No evidence exists of fraud, deception or criminality in the tallying of absentee ballots that piled up during the worst health crisis to hit the nation in a century. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature refused to allow those ballots to be processed as they came in, compounding the delays until the race was called on Saturday.
But Mr. Tippie, a retired truck driver who imbibed the president’s words partly through Fox News, agreed with Mr. Trump and his surrogates that the election was being stolen before their eyes. He lives in Nanty Glo, Pa., in the interior of the state that the so-called elites in Philadelphia sometimes call “Pennsyltucky.” To Mr. Tippie, Mr. Biden is “a total fool,” his running mate, Kamala Harris, is “a very scary woman,” and a Biden presidency would be both illegitimate and disastrous.
While Mr. Biden pulled off major successes in flipping Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania back to Democrats, and achieved the rare ouster of an incumbent, he did not notch the landslide demolishment of Mr. Trump that many Democrats had yearned for, despite leading in the popular vote by more than four million.
Instead, Mr. Biden will inherit a country where many Americans are already backed into mutually hostile corners. It threatens the president-elect’s most basic campaign pledge: to unite Americans, to move past divisiveness as a governing strategy, to heal the “soul of the nation.”
“I think we’re a long way from unifying the country, and I’m sure that Trump will continue to work on dividing us,” said Catherine Lalonde, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Butler County, a blue-collar region in western Pennsylvania.
“I don’t believe his supporters will accept Biden’s win and wouldn’t even if it were a larger margin,” she added. “I have a feeling that all the Trump flags and signs will stay put until they disintegrate.”