Steve Walls is a 38-year-old electrician in Philadelphia. He never was really into politics – until 2016.

Walls has been excited about Donald Trump’s chances since he first talked about running for president years ago. But the wave of energy around Trump’s campaign this year swept him up. Walls works long hours, but he started door-knocking every chance he got.

Reporter Laura Starecheski and photographer Charles Mostoller joined Walls on the last leg of his journey. They followed him in the final weeks of Trump’s campaign and through Election Day in northeast Philadelphia.

All along, Walls saw what Democrats, journalists and pollsters had missed: Trump was bound for victory.

Steve Walls went door-knocking for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at least 10 times in the runup to the election. His northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Mayfair is mixed politically. In 2012, about 60 percent of people here voted for Democrat Barack Obama, 40 percent for Republican Mitt Romney.
Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“We need to get over this political correctness. Everybody’s got to stop getting their feelings hurt. Time to put your big boy shoes on, go to work.”
– Steve Walls

Frank Giuffre, a disabled veteran, told Walls that he was planning to vote for Trump. Walls said he saw support for Trump all across the city. Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“When you ask them what they’re gonna vote for, 90 percent of these people are going, ‘I’m gonna vote for Trump.’ ”
– Steve Walls

Kay LeBlanc, another Mayfair Trump supporter, opposed Democrat Hillary Clinton because of her stance on abortion. LeBlanc said she couldn’t believe any Catholics would vote for her.
Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“Don’t you feel most of the people voting for Clinton are brain dead?”
– Kay LeBlanc

A collection of doctored playing cards shows Obama and local Philadelphia Democrats who have been indicted or are under investigation. The display is titled, “Philadelphia Democratic Cesspool of Corruption – So Sad – Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely in Philly.” Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“I want somebody that’s proud of my country. Not somebody who wants to rip it apart because the rest of the world doesn’t view us right. If they don’t view us right, it’s not my problem.”
– Steve Walls

Walls spent election night watching returns at the Tailhook Tavern, a military bar in northeast Philadelphia. He’d predicted Trump’s victory weeks before.
Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“You poked the bear. The silent majority’s gonna stand up.”
– Steve Walls

Walls celebrates as another state gets called for Trump. Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal Credit: Charles Mostoller for Reveal

“We made a stand. … It’s our time.”
– Steve Walls 

How did everyone miss the Trump supporters who were hiding in plain sight? On Reveal, we learn why they kept a low profile – until Election Day, that is – and hear what they have to say now that their candidate is headed to the White House. 

Laura Starecheski is a senior radio editor for Reveal. Their radio work at Reveal has won a national Edward R. Murrow, a duPont-Columbia, and a Peabody, among other awards. Previously, they reported on health for NPR’s science desk and traveled the United States with host Al Letson for the Peabody Award-winning show “State of the Re:Union.” Their Radiolab story “Goat on a Cow” won a silver award for best documentary from the Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and SOTRU's “The Hospital Always Wins” won a national Murrow Award. They have been a Rosalynn Carter fellow for mental health journalism and a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan. Starecheski is based in Philadelphia.

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.