"It's like standing on a hill, looking at your house burn."
This is how a United States ex-pat has described the thought of Donald Trump being re-elected president.
As the results of the historic US election rolled in, those who previously called the US home anxiously watched the nail-biting results unfold.
The race is tight, and there is a fair chance Americans won't know the winner of the election tonight — or even tomorrow reports AP.
Millions of voters put aside worries about Covid-19 — and long lines — to turn out to vote today. They joined 102 million Americans who voted earlier, a record number that represented 73 per cent of the total vote in the 2016 election.
Due to the huge volume of mail-in votes, the outcome may not be known for days or even weeks and could wind up in court.
In this election, 15 states fell into the category of a "swing state" or "battleground state" – meaning they could conceivably be won by either Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
Tauranga hairdresser Sydnee Gould only had one client today before she blocked herself off, too anxious to work.
"The best-case scenario, Biden pulls through ... it really could go either way."
The Colorado-born woman moved to New Zealand nearly two years ago, settling down in Tauranga with her Kiwi partner.
She had spoken with her family in the US earlier, and although they had all voted, also felt nervous. Though Gould thought she might be feeling it more being so far away from them.
Gould said the New Zealand election was worlds apart from the US election, and there was more openness from the public in the way they voted.
Californian Marguerite Martinet said she was surprised to see Biden, who had 213 of the Electoral College Votes when spoken to by NZME, was only slightly ahead of Trump who sat at 118.
But she still crossed her fingers that Biden pulled ahead.
Biden had won California, the nation's biggest electoral haul, and other predictable victories including Colorado and Virginia, two former battlegrounds that have become Democratic strongholds.
It was "really sad" to think of the possibility of Trump being re-elected, she said.
She believed it would be the "dismantling" of the past decade of policies and a regression in progress the country had made.
Martinet has been living in Rotorua since June last year on a working holiday visa which had been extended due to Covid.
She said the outcome of the election, as well as the direction the country moved following the results, would impact her desire to go home.
Democrats Abroad New Zealand secretary Dawn Dromgool said she did not think the results would be this close.
The US ex-pat lived in Tauranga and said a Trump re-election would be "very bad for democracy" and feared for the stability of the country her two adult children still lived in.
"It's like standing on a hill, looking at your house burn," she said of the thought of Trump's re-election.
It would also diminish any hope of getting Covid-19 under control.
Biden entered election day with multiple paths to victory while Trump, playing catch-up in a number of battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 Electoral College votes.
Trump began the day on an upbeat note, predicting that he'd do even better than in 2016, but during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.
In battlegrounds, including Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, some voters showed up to their polling places before dawn to beat the crowds, but still found themselves having to wait in long lines to cast their ballots.
Both candidates voted early, and first lady Melania Trump cast her ballot on Tuesday near Mar-a-Lago, the couple's estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Melania Trump, who recently recovered from Covid-19, was the only one not wearing a mask as she entered the polling site.
- Additional reporting, NZ Herald