Supporters of US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton react at her election night rally in Manhattan, New York, US, November 8, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The shift in atmosphere was swift and startling.
The tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton supporters who poured into the Javits Center in New York City on Tuesday night arrived jubilant and excited for a victory all but promised by media outlets and national polls.
Waiting for several hours in the Manhattan cold and standing in a cramped, packed line couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who’d turned out for what they’d expected to be a celebration. The Clinton campaign had even originally planned a fireworks demonstration for the evening, only calling it off a day ahead of the election.
“It’s a historic night and I want to be around other people who are going to be as excited as I am,” said Charlene Thrope, 24, a Massachusetts native now living in New York City.
Thrope came to the rally with a group of friends, all decked out in a variety of Clinton T-shirts. Hers was proudly emblazoned with “A woman’s place is in the White House.”
But as results started to pour in, the excitement that had reigned among the men, women and even children decked out in Hillary T-shirts, stickers, pins and jewelry was quickly extinguished.
As early victories for Donald Trump in South Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia rolled in, supporters in the crowd were ready to explain why it didn’t matter, why Clinton still had a path to the White House, why there was nothing for them to worry about.
But when Florida, North Carolina and Ohio were called for Trump, even the loud boos became more muted, replaced by shock, concern and tears.
While there were cheers when Virginia was called for Clinton, and excitement when Katy Perry stepped on to the stage, as the night wore on, even the most optimistic supporters turned quieter, glued to the TV screens around the hall and their phones and iPads. Glum expressions replaced giddy smiles, and friends put their arms around each other, trying to comfort one another as the scenario they never dreamed possible unfolded.
After 11:00 p.m., when The New York Times was predicting that there was a 95% chance of Trump taking the presidency, faces of disbelief began to file out of the Javits Center.
“I don’t understand how this could happen,” one woman cried, wiping away tears. “I don’t know how people could have so much hate.”
Others reacted in anger at the surprising news.
“If I’ve learned anything right now, it’s that you can be a complete asshole and still win,” a woman said.
Some took a long-term vision of the expected results.
“We survived eight years of [Ronald] Reagan, we can survive this,” one said.
But she later revisited that thought, suggesting a different approach. “I’m moving to Norway,” she said. “They’ve had two female prime ministers.”