Election Night At L.A. Democratic HQ Ends In Tears

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

An energized crowd of about 300 people gathered at the West LA Democratic Party headquarters Tuesday night. They were there to witness a historic moment. Hillary Clinton was going to be elected the first female President of the United States.

But as the night wore on, the results of voting across the nation crushed their expectations. Their enthusiasm was beaten down with each network projection of statewide wins by Clinton’s opponent, and by the end of the night, most people had cleared out before it was official that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Melissa Grant, president of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club and manager of the West LA democratic Headquarters, expressed her discomfort with the results. “I’m feeling sick to my stomach. I’m feeling absolute astonishment,” Grant said. “I think [the country] is going to go through some terrible, terrible times. But I think we’ll ultimately come through it.”

Earlier in the evening, just a few feet from a glass counter offering Clinton bumper stickers, buttons and tee-shirts that was strangely placed in front of posters of the failed campaigns of Dukakis/Bentson, Mondale/Ferraro and Kerry/Edwards, Whirlie the Clown was happily working the Clinton text bank. Wearing a candy-green and pink clown suit with swirling silver accents and a bright pink wig, Whirlie said, “I don’t want to vote for any scary clowns. I’m a happy clown.”  

Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez) Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez) Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

“This is just a huge blow. It’s such a punch in the gut for anyone who’s not a white man."

Whirlie, who works as a real birthday clown and has been creating “happy clown sightings” to battle the recent rash of “creepy clown sightings” explained why she was in the house. “I’m really happy that everyone went out to vote,” said Whirlie. “I actually am clowning around for America— yay!— and democracy. I’ve been walking around the city getting everyone to vote.”

At the start of the night, Whirlie’s festive vibe was right at home at these headquarters on Montana Avenue. Every seat in the phone and text bank was filled with campaign volunteers. The mood was cheerful as more Clinton supporters, volunteers and their friends and family filled every folding chair set out in a semi-circular pattern around an NBC News feed projected onto a wall. Those unable to find empty chairs stood two deep along the back of the room, some leaning against the wall and eating plates of salad, veggies, sandwiches and muffins from tables in the back.

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez) Hillary clinton supporters embrace each other as the tv announcer tells what states trump has won during the presidential election at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez) Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez) Hillary Clinton supporters cheer in enthusiasm after Clinton won California at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

As state-by-state election results rolled in and showed Trump winning states that included Florida, the mood of the room changed from festive anticipation to shock and disappointment. An anguished cry of “no!” was heard when Trump was projected to win Ohio. But the mood swung back to joyous and deafening cheers erupted later in the evening with NBC’s announcement that Clinton had won California.

“Before I started watching the returns I was feeling very confident,” said Chris Ufland, a Clinton volunteer. “Now that I’m seeing that it’s close it’s very unsettling.”

Scattered, nervous laughter was heard at reports that the Canadian immigration website had crashed under of a crush of web traffic. But others couldn’t control their sadness and were crying at the results. “I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who isn’t devastated,” said one shocked young woman who was watching the results unfold.

One of those in tears was campaign volunteer Megan Holmquist. “I was excited about this election for years now. When she announced it I was thrilled,” said Holmquist. “This is just a huge blow. It’s such a punch in the gut for anyone who’s not a white man. It’s pretty appalling that this vote feels like one full of a hatred that is unrecognizable in my own life. So, it’s pretty hard to stomach.”

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)
Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)

Hillary Clinton supporters react to Trump’s lead in the elections during the watch party at the Westside Democratic Headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Josue Martinez)