Americans in Taranaki cast eyes across Pacific

CONSERVATIVE VOTER: Courtney Dravitzki, 22, of Nebraska, watches the results of the US election roll on Wednesday afternoon.
CONSERVATIVE VOTER: Courtney Dravitzki, 22, of Nebraska, watches the results of the US election roll on Wednesday afternoon.

Two young American women on opposite sides of the political divide were watching the United States election from Taranaki yesterday.

Staunch Republican Courtney Dravitzki, 22, of Nebraska, had her hopes dashed last night when Mitt Romney conceded the presidential race to Barack Obama, but Californian Democrat Veronica Andrews, 27, was overjoyed.

"I just got home from work and saw the votes rolling in and it's awesome, it makes me proud to be an American," she said.

Both women had been watching on TV, keeping track of the results on the internet and social media sites, and both cast their votes by absentee ballot through the post.

"With all the news coverage and the people posting about it on Facebook I still feel very connected," Ms Dravitzki said.

Ms Andrews, who works at Witt and has been living in Taranaki for several years, said she was not too surprised by the outcome.

"With all the media hype I was a little concerned; it was nerve-racking watching, but I had a strong feeling because I know Americans aren't stupid."

She said Mr Obama had made significant progress during his first term as president.

"He's created a lot of jobs by saving the automotive industry, he's repealed the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in the military so you can be gay in the military, he's supported legalising gay marriage, and he's done a lot with healthcare too.

"It's so expensive to get healthcare over there. I also like his foreign policy: he's getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Ms Dravitzki, who has been visiting family in New Zealand for three months and working at Marbles buffet, said she thought the United States needed a president who could pull the country out of financial strife.

"What we need is a strong leader who is willing to stand up and fix the budget and get our country back on it's feet."

Mr Romney's values and morals best aligned with hers, she said. "I'm really into my faith and the pro-life movement."

Watching the coverage, it became clear Mr Obama would win. But "no matter what happens I love my country," she said.

"It's this big, powerful, beautiful country which has so much hope and potential and strength."

But she questioned how equipped the American public was to vote.

"Even people my age, I don't know how many of them will get out and vote today. It does depend where you are from but a lot of people aren't very well informed."

Both women commented on how interested New Zealanders were in the US election.

"I think it's great because the US is such a huge world power and has such dominance in the global economy," Ms Andrews said.

Ms Dravitzki said New Zealanders frequently raised political issues with her, and most were Obama supporters.

"It's interesting that everyone here likes Obama."

Taranaki Daily News