Roman (Kieran Culkin) has been completely inside Mencken since they met on “What It Takes” at the “Future Freedom Summit”. As a wealthy, white border lord with a sadistic streak, Roman is the target demographic for Mencken’s far-right style of politics. There’s another, more cynical reason for Roman’s support, though – if elected, Mencken promised Roman It will prevent GoJo from buying Waystar Royco.
Earlier in the episode, Roman visits Mencken’s campaign when it appears to be in Jiménez’s bag. He speaks to the man himself and prepares to hide his loss – that is, using ATN to claim voter fraud. “Even if you won’t be president, you will be our president,” Roman promises.
When the attack in Milwaukee takes place, Roman rises in ATN as Mencken’s voice. He relentlessly presses for ATN to call Wisconsin for Mencken and conceal who is to blame for the Milwaukee attack. When called up in Arizona, Roman pressures the network to declare Mencken the winner. Successful in everything.
Mencken simply “wins” because the Milwaukee votes destroyed don’t count – and those votes are sure to get Jiménez over the line. As a result, there is no real winner as the results will have to go through the judicial system. What a news organization would do impartially is to end the night with no winners. Instead, Roman subverts democracy to push his agenda and sarcastically says he only counts “the votes we have.” By having ATN declare Mencken the winner, the novel creates a narrative that will embolden its supporters and possibly lead to more violence. This naturally upsets people – especially Shiv (Sarah Snook), the so-called liberal of the Roy family.