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Massachusetts Voters Share Their Hopes For New Administration


Well, I don't need to tell you that in this divided nation, there are widely divergent emotions around today's transition of power. NPR's Tovia Smith has been out speaking to voters in Massachusetts. She joins us now.

Hey, Tovia.


KELLY: Where were you exactly?

SMITH: I was in deep blue Cambridge, a liberal bastion, as you may know, that basically tied for Biden's biggest vote in Massachusetts - around 92%. So as you can imagine, I encountered many elated self-described lefties here. I started at a Harvard Square institution, a restaurant called Grendel's, where they had a big Biden banner hanging and a big screen set up to watch the ceremony. I talked to owner Kari Kuelzer and server Abby Taylor (ph). They were serving up what they advertised as cups of Joe to warm your insides like the president, they said, and to celebrate as they watched. And they said they were surprised, even themselves, how emotional it was, as you can hear.

KARI KUELZER: Kamala - our first woman VP ever. I'm giddy (laughter).

ABBY TAYLOR: It's like - just to see a mom - you know what I mean? - in a leadership role like this, you know. I mean, it's like - it's really happening right now.

SMITH: They said it was as much a relief to see the now-former President Trump go as it was to see Biden inaugurated. And both women actually started out supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren, who's a Cambridge neighbor. But Taylor says Biden has grown on her.

TAYLOR: Getting into the fight has actually, like, enlivened him. He's so much more energetic and, like, sharp and sort of exciting than he was at the beginning of the campaign. And I think that's, to me, something that I really admire, people that can grow, you know what I mean?

SMITH: And this being Cambridge, I'll just add, I also heard from voters who were still disappointed with Biden, who they see as not progressive enough, but as one put it, she was resigned to settling for him.

KELLY: OK. So you met a lot of people who like Biden, who like Kamala Harris in deep blue Cambridge. What do they say they actually hope for? What do they want the new administration to do?

SMITH: A lot of hope that a Biden-Harris administration will do better on protecting the environment, for example, on managing the pandemic, more generally, on improving the tenor from the White House. Many said they were relieved that there was nothing today like the violence we saw at the Capitol two weeks ago. But ultimately, Susan Pharr, who's a Harvard government professor, says she hopes that without Trump at the top stoking his false claims of election fraud, that extremism and division will dissipate.

SUSAN PHARR: And it's troubling. But I'm hoping that as we move forward and we sort of normalize, that gradually, some of this alternative reality that they have been living in will lose credibility.

KELLY: Did you run into any Trump supporters today, Tovia?

SMITH: Yes, I did. And I wasn't surprised when this Navy veteran I spoke to, Greg (ph), said he didn't want his last name used for fear of retribution or being canceled, as he put it. He said he was purposely avoiding watching the inauguration.

GREG: You know, I love this country. I love what this country stands for, but it's just not home anymore. It's just sad.

SMITH: He says he fears a coming big-government approach and a foreign policy that does not put America first. But he says he is praying for the president and the vice president because he says they are his president and vice president now too.

KELLY: That is NPR's Tovia Smith reporting for us from Cambridge today.

Thanks, Tovia.

SMITH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.
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