Tears And Vindication As Election Night Unfolds In 2 Very Different Rooms
Dozens of Republicans rose to their feet with a scream. Donald Trump's victory was unfolding on giant screens beaming Fox News into a Bellevue ballroom.
At a Democratic gathering across Lake Washington, news of Hillary Clinton's concession scrolled across a TV with CNN on mute. Stragglers at the hotel bar moaned, cursed, cried out in disbelief.
"She was supposed to win," said Brittany Silvas, a Clinton supporter from Seattle.
Elections bring triumph and disappointment, but high stakes and shattered expectations this election night swept crowds at the state's two marquee poll-watching parties into different emotional universes.
Trump's victory shocked many pollsters and pundits, but it was a sense of vindication, not surprise, that dominated among Republicans celebrating at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.
Michael Yan said he expected Trump would defy the polls and surge to victory. He said he knew a "silent majority" was waiting to shock the establishments of both major parties.
"Even though I'm a very quantitative kind of person and analytical, there's this side of me where I always had faith," said Yan, a senior at the University of Washington.
Luke Lueckenotte, who wore a t-shirt that said "Hillary for Prison," said he never trusted what news outlets told him about Trump's chances.
"They're part of the cabal and the Bush-Clinton crime syndicate," said Lueckenotte, a Bellevue resident.
Other Republicans said they were surprised — even a bit conflicted — by their party's victory.
Autumn Bennett said she was pleased she was able to watch Clinton lose while sticking to her principles by voting for a candidate other than Trump.
"I do, however, feel concerned because I feel like we now have a cartoon character for a president," added Bennett, marketing director for GOP state Rep. Jesse Young.
Matilda Montgomery, a Normandy Park resident, said she supported Ted Cruz in the primary and wasn't sure Trump would win the general election.
But with victory in hand, she said her excitement was tempered by concern that Trump wouldn't follow through on his promises to conservatives.
"There's a lot to be done," she said, "and America needs to pray for him, and his family, and the party."
Montgomery added that she was "saddened" for Clinton. "I hope that she heals," she said.
Many Democrats gathered at the Westin in downtown Seattle said they arrived at the party expecting to cheer on local candidates and initiatives on minimum wage and gun control. A Clinton loss felt like a remote possibility.
By the end of the night, some found themselves questioning reality and exchanging fearful words about racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
"I want to cry right now because I'm so disappointed," said Terique Scott. "But, I mean, honestly, if Trump wins, that just gives the Democrats four more years to really think about different strategies on how to take back America."
Silvas said she felt speechless, unsure of what to do next. Then another emotion seemed to break through.
"It's not over, we're not going to let him win," she said. "He's not going to have it easy."