NEW YORK — Supporters of Hillary Clinton were divided between despair and disbelief as they walked down the steps of the Democratic nominee’s election night event at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center after midnight on Wednesday.
With Donald Trump on the brink of securing the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency, Clinton’s backers appeared gobsmacked by the apparent historical upset. Many left in tears, tight-lipped and gripping onto the arms of relatives.
But others just weren’t ready to call the race yet.
“I still think she’s going to win because I think there’s been a lot of shenanigans,” Margot McMann, who came from Chicago with over a dozen family members to celebrate Clinton’s win, told TPM in the Javits Center lobby.
Pointing to the specter of voter fraud that Trump and his supporters raised time and again in recent months, McMann said that she had heard reports of missing votes and some electronic voting machines in states like Georgia automatically flipping Clinton votes to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
“There has to be a recount,” McMann declared, blinking away tears through plastic-rimmed glasses. “I absolutely think she’s going to win still. I don’t know how. I’m just being 100 percent optimistically hopeful because there’s too much on the line right now. We were already an oligarchy and now we’re a monarchy. And this freakin country voted him in.”
McMann’s son, Brendan, was less optimistic. Wearing a navy Chicago Cubs hat, he said he was maintaining the same doubtful outlook about the election that he did about his team winning the World Series—which it ultimately did.
“I was not hopeful about that and I’m not hopeful now because the odds are against us,” he said.
As of 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Clinton was staring down a very narrow path to victory, holding 215 electoral college votes to Trump’s 244. Networks were showing Trump leading in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all states that the Democratic nominee needs to eke out a victory at this stage.
A middle-aged female Clinton volunteer who declined to give her name to TPM said she put too much into the race to leave the venue until the it was called.
“I worked very hard helping,” she said. “I took time off my work to help her with Hispanics in California, Nevada, Arizona on the ground, actually helping people to register to vote.”
As she spoke, dozens of other Clinton backers holding American flags and decked out in campaign paraphernalia streamed out of the venue. Their expressions were grim.
Others paced back and forth or huddled with relatives and friends in the corner, unprepared to accept defeat.
Brendan McMann said he thought a Trump win would have troubling effects both for his work in the non-profit sector, which is funded in part by the federal government, and for the country at large.
“I’m very pragmatic about this sort of stuff,” McMann said. “The president says a lot about who we are and what we believe in but I’m also very conscious of the real effects that a new executive branch has. The scope and size of the executive branch, it’s very discretionary.”
“It really throws my future into question,” he added. “What happens to the economy, what happens to federal government spending? I don’t know how that’s going to go.”