With the future of the country hanging in the balance, Krysia Mazur on Wednesday retreated to the basement of her Wisconsin home.
An independent who voted for Joe Biden, Mazur said she couldn’t bear to watch TV and was only occasionally checking the internet for updates as state officials counted the ballots in Wisconsin and two other key Midwestern states that could decide the race, while the rest of the country held its collective breath.
“How am I handling it?’ Mazur asked as Wisconsin appeared to be going for Biden. “I’m just trying not to get nauseous. So I’m cleaning the basement. They’re delivering a new boiler. I’m keeping myself busy.”
Mazur, who is 66 and lives in the northern hamlet of Crivitz, said she picked Biden over President Donald Trump because of concerns about what Trump and the Republicans might do to Medicare and Social Security.
“I can’t believe people are voting against their own interests,” she said.
Mazur admits the election has taken a mental toll. “I have a friend who is a psychologist, and I told him that if Trump wins nationally I’ll be calling him,” she said.
In the meantime, Mazur tried to comfort herself with this thought: “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. If Biden loses, at least I can say I did my part. And if Trump wins, there’s going to be a lot of people I won’t be talking to until after the New Year.”
In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Republican Lenny McAllister said Wednesday that he was willing to wait however long it took to make sure the vote count was accurate.
“I want every American voter to have their voice heard. I’m not trying to rush the process,” said McAllister, 48, of Pennhills, a suburb of Pittsburgh. “I expected it today be close. Those who thought Biden would win comfortably were overstating the polls.”
Pittsburgh Democrat Kierran Young, 28, lost sleep on election night waiting to find who Pennsylvania supported.
“I’m extremely anxious to see which way Pennsylvania went, but at this point, it may not matter,” said Young referring to Biden, who with 264 electoral college votes Wednesday was closing in on the presidency.
In Michigan, another key battleground state that Biden appeared to be winning, Republican voter Karen Bua said she woke up Wednesday expecting to hear that Trump had been re-elected. Instead, she was greeted with “very frustrating” uncertainty.
"It's a little depressing," Bua, 67, of Sterling Heights said. “A little upsetting. It makes us feel very helpless. It's very frustrating because this should be cut and dry. This should have been taken care of, but the people that are ruining this state are running it poorly. I don't trust them. "
By “people,” Bua meant Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the other Democrats running the state government.
"I'm really angry at the states that knew this was coming with these ballots and they did nothing to waylay this,” Bua, 67, said. “It's very difficult to trust the system."
In Galesburg, Michigan, a suburb of Kalamazoo, Trump supporter Sara Zastko turned off the TV and the radio and started praying.
“For me, it’s a lot of prayer and meditation and trying to pull back a bit and be in the moment," Zastko, 35, said. "Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a lot of other Trump supporters that are generally very calm people. We just want to see an honest outcome more than anything.”
Sheila Graham, 63, a Democrat from Flint, Michigan, was taking her own Zen-like approach.
"Whatever is going to happen is going to happen," she said. "I did my part by voting, and that's all I can do."
Graham said when she arrived at the Burston Field House recreation center where she works she was hoping to hear good news about Biden. She said she was not particularly surprised to learn that votes were still being counted.
Many voters in Michigan and across the country voted absentee, she said, and those ballots take longer to tally.
"I'm sitting here waiting, anticipating for my candidate to win," Graham said. "I sure wish we knew."
But, she added, "I'm not frazzled by any means because I feel like this is not the first election that I've gone through, presidential-wise, where I may have wanted somebody to win and they did or did not, and I'll take it one day at a time."
Angela Getz, 41, a Biden supporter in still-to-be-called Pennsylvania, said she’s been binge-watching the “CSI" TV dramas and putting in extra hours on the job and trying not to think about the election.
“I’m trying to put myself into work and trying not to stress about it because I know it’s not going to be right away,” she said.
Getz said the stress level is similar to what she felt during the President George W. Bush years “but much worse.” She said a second Trump term during a raging pandemic frightens her.
“I just don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “This pandemic is not going to go away. He had to think about being re-elected this time. If he doesn’t have to worry about being re-elected, I mean, good Lord, what is he going to do?”
Magdalena Lopez, another Michigan Democrat who voted for Biden, is relying on her new four-legged friend to provide her with some peace of mind as the election drama unfolds.
“I just adopted a dog so I’ve been taking walks, and that’s helped a lot,” said Lopez, 27.
Einhorn reported from Detroit, Siemaszko from New Jersey, and Hampton from Pittsburgh.
CORRECTION (Nov. 18, 2020, 7:32 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated Kierran Young's political affiliation. He is a Democrat, not a Republican.