Liverpool, USA reacts to Obama victory

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Liverpool, New York; US President Barack Obama

When the people of the USA turn out to vote for the ‘leader of the free world’, the rest of the globe holds its breath.

This year’s Presidential election was no different, as countless numbers in the UK alone drifted off on their sofas waiting for the winner to be announced in the early hours of our morning.

Only the hardcore will have witnessed the moment the Obama-clock ticked over the crucial 270 electoral votes around 4.25am UK time, while others woke up to the news that… well, nothing had changed.

With five places in the US being called Liverpool, JMU Journalism decided to track down our namesakes in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas.

Enough with the colour-coded maps, percentages and stats, we wanted to find out what the people really thought post-election, and what kind of places carry our proud name.


East Liverpool, Ohio © Wikipedia

EasLiverpool, Ohio

Population: 11,195 (2010 census)

Established: 1816

Mayor: James P. Swoger

2012 state result: Ohio – Obama/Biden (Democratic Party)

Background & local reaction: 

East Liverpool prides itself on being the ‘Pottery Capital of the World’, and while people in The Potteries of Staffordshire just down the M6 may dispute that claim, it was undeniable on election night that Ohio was seen as the most important state of all in the race for the White House.

When Ohio was declared in favour of Democrat Obama – as it was in 2008 – Romney’s fate was sealed and the Repubican’s bid for the Presidency was over. Ohio’s delayed result gave Obama an unassailable lead, prompting the President to tweet “four more years”.

While Ohio’s citizens might have backed the Democrats again, East Liverpool Mayor James P. Swoger believes that local unemployment fears leave voters with more frustration than elation. East Liverpool might have more in common with our native town that we realise, with some 1980s echoes reverberating across the Atlantic.

East Liverpool Mayor James P. Swoger

Mayor Swoger told JMU Journalism: “We’re a Democratic base but I don’t think people are happy with the result here. These people around this area are miners and they work in coal, and they were defending their jobs.”

President Obama plans to reduce the USA’s coal consumption, meaning that “all of Southern Ohio was anti-Obama” in the race, according to Mayor Swoger, who voted Democrat.

He said: “We have good people and they’ve been beat up a lot. We’ve had a lot of unemployment in our area recently and they’ve kind of given up. They see millions of dollars spent on campaigns and it’s sad, and I agree with that. It’s very sad to see that money spent that could have done so much good.”

Mayor Swoger believes that party lines should be cast aside and that government should work together for the people. He said East Liverpool folks deserve a better deal and that they should not make “the rich richer and if crumbs fall off the table poor people can have them”.

He added: “We’re kind of a small time town and everything went really well, but there was a large turnout. A lot of people don’t vote here because they don’t think that they have a say and that it doesn’t matter. It does matter.”


Liverpool, Texas © Patrick Feller/Creative Commons/Flickr

Liverpool, Texas

Population: 482 (2010 census)

Established: 1837

Mayor: Bill Strickland

2012 state result: Texas – Romney/Ryan (Republican Party)

Background & local reaction:

Liverpool, Texas is located in the evocatively-named Chocolate Bayou region of Brazoria County, and is the only one of our namesakes in a state which backed Republican Mitt Romney.

In fact, Texas, which is the largest US state bar Alaska in terms of land mass, has voted Republican in every election since 1980.

Liverpool Town Hall’s election clerk, Billie Johnson, told JMU Journalism: “Texas is a red [Republican] state and Brazoria County where we live is one of the reddest. Yes, we’re disappointed [that Obama won] but where we live is so Republican that it wasn’t a challenge for us to get out and vote Republican. It might have been in another county or another state.”

Billie Johnson from Liverpool, Texas

Billie went on to describe her Liverpool home town: “It’s mostly cattle and farming. There are about 400 people and a lot of them work at the refinery plants. We have a rice field too. We situated on a bayou that about 100 years ago was very active for corn and cotton but now it’s not, it’s more used for fishing and recreation.”

The election clerk said that there were stories of some “rough” goings-on in the city of Houston, but reckoned that type of thing would not happen in Liverpool. She said: “It went absolutely perfect, we had no problems at all. If anyone walked in and didn’t look right I could call my husband, or the sheriff because we’re based in the courthouse.”

Billie spoke of what some of the town’s folk got up to on Election Day to quell the nerves: “Yeah, some of the people I know went and got drunk. We were just hanging out because it’s a long day. It wasn’t through disappointment! They might have drunk harder after the polls started coming in!”

Their chosen president may not have been elected, but Billie said the people of Liverpool look on the bright side: “Basically, if you have peace in your heart then it is what it is. The sun came up beautiful yesterday, nothing bad has happened. You just have to deal with it.

“Life is too good down here to not give it another chance, that’s the way we look at it.”


Liverpool, Illinois © Google Earth

Liverpool, Illinois

Population: 129 (2010 census)

Established: 1826

Mayor: Becky Humphrey

2012 state result: Illinios – Obama/Biden (Democratic Party)

Background & local reaction:

Illinois may be Mr Obama’s neck of the woods, but what was once Al Capone’s tiny weekend getaway location is by far the smallest of the Liverpools in the US, home to less than 150 people.

Liverpool, Illinois Mayor Becky Humphrey met Scouser Phil Bimpson when he toured her home town © Phil Bimpson

Indeed, Mayor Becky Humphrey told JMU Journalism that she has been the only person on the mayoral ballot for the last two elections: “I imagine I’ll be the only one when it comes up in March.”

Hers is not a job in demand in Liverpool, Illinois and Becky explained: “I find that when people come to me screaming and yelling about something they don’t like I will graciously tell them: ‘If you don’t like what I’m doing or how I’m doing it I hereby resign and you can have my job.’ They back up and say ‘No! You’re doing a good job!’

Unlike some of our other Liverpool counterparts, Becky reckoned the Illinois contingent is mostly satisfied with how the election turned out: “I think people are happy with the result. We’re Democrat for the most part.”

Any mishaps on Election Day? “No, everything went fine mostly. We’re so small that we wouldn’t get a lot of controversy either way.”


Liverpool, New York © Wikipedia

Liverpool, New York

Population: 2,347 (2010 census)

Established: 1830

Mayor: Gary White

2012 state result: New York – Obama/Biden (Democratic Party)

Background & local reaction:

Ever since 1984 New York State has belonged to the Democrats, but, whilst nearly half of the population lives in New York City, the rest of the state can easily be overlooked.

Liverpool, New York adopted its name from our own fair city to try to increase its credibility in the salt trading world, as our UK city was a world renowned name for such in the late 1700s. Before that it was named “Little Ireland”.

Ironically enough, around 40 years after the village swapped its name, thousands of Irish immigrants fled to Liverpool in the UK, prompting the city to bear the nickname “the capital of Ireland”.

The village of Liverpool calls itself a “community with a rich history and an independent spirit”, and as Clerk of the Village Hall, Sandra Callahan, told JMU Journalism, the state standard Democratic vote was not the case in Liverpool. She said: “We’re pretty strong Republican base in this village but this election was definitely split right down the middle.

“It’s hard to tell whether the village is happy with the result. The nation was completely divided and I think the village residents were too, half for President Obama and half for Romney, so, I think our village is pretty reflective of the country overall.”

For now, Sandra is being pragmatic about Obama’s next term: “Hopefully everything works out good for us with this administration. I’d say the economy is the main thing that everybody’s worried about. Hopefully the next four years will improve that.”


Liverpool, Pennsylvania © Wikipedia

Liverpool, Pennsylvania

Population: 955 (2010 census)

Established: 1808

Mayor: John Mark

2012 state result: Pennsylvania – Obama/Biden (Democratic Party)

Background & local reaction:

Pennsylvania marks another Obama stronghold in the Democratic North East, although his win here in 2012 failed to live up to his emphatic 2008 victory.

The borough of Liverpool used to be one of the busiest places on the Pennsylvania canal route but jobs look thin on the ground in town these days, says local worker Marian Matter: “We’re close to the state capital and the defence depot so there’s a lot of commuting that goes on because people work down in Harrisburg. We’ve got farming and it’s a rural area really, so there are not a lot of jobs in Liverpool.”

Unlike the majority of Pennsylvania State, Marian says the people of Liverpool are none too pleased with the election outcome: “I don’t think we’re feeling very happy. We’re usually a Republican base.

“I would say the low number of jobs here and the economy are the main reasons for people not being happy that Obama won.”


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About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism