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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Inside the GOP’s Arizona after party, upbeat mood as Trump’s election ‘firewall’ holds 

The local result became less important as Republicans secured a Senate majority, allowing celebrations to start, writes Arthur MacMillan in Scottsdale, Arizona

The votes are still being counted but the party has already begun among Arizona's Republican Party members.

With the Senate secured, the only potential spoiler to their evening – losing a seat in this state to the Democrats – lacked the power it had earlier in the day. At the Hilton DoubleTree Resort, music blared from the hall. The story was now all about what comes next in Washington.

“We are in a battle. But Trump is very resilient. We have the Senate, the Supreme Court and the White House. That’s a firewall,” GOP volunteer James Murr said.

Republicans and Democrats in Arizona normally hold their post-election parties a few streets from each other in downtown Phoenix. Not this year. The Republicans chose to head out to Scottsdale, while the Democrats have stayed in town, 32 kilometres away.

“I think they thought some 'never Trumpers' might come in and ruin the night,” said one well-informed analyst. Such antipathy has been stoked by the Senate race between Republican candidate Martha McSally and Democratic rival Kyrsten Sinema, a campaign dominated by attack ads and little public debate between the pair.

With about 500,000 ballots still to be counted before midnight, and a fluctuating 1 per cent gap between the pair, the tone remained visceral.

“Sinema's a horrible person,” Mr Murr said, as a television screen – like all others here was showing Fox News, the only network President Donald Trump exempts from derision – displayed the latest results.

The reality was dawning that the Arizona Senate race did not matter any more because Democrats had lost seats nationwide, ensuring a bigger majority for Republicans in the upper house.

“We're probably gonna end up 56-44,” Mr Murr said, a gain of five seats. But it wasn't a win-win.

“I expect problems from the House. Maybe we won’t get the border wall funded now,” he said of the Democrats' winning control of the House of Representatives.

Others did not care. “We're heading back to Tucson,” said one young activist. “We might win here, we might not. It's not as important as it was this morning.”

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